Into the Unknown – By Pastor Katie

Greetings on this Maundy Thursday, I hope you are having a meaningful Holy Week.
The Governor of Minnesota just announced and extension of the Stay at Home Executive Order until May 4, 2020. While I already sort of knew this was coming, it is feeling much heavier and much harder than I expected.
Maybe that feeling is because it all feels like a giant unknown. Minnesota’s Covid-19 numbers are still climbing and we are expecting a few weeks harder than some of us have ever known. Adding another three and a half weeks to the current Stay at Home order means, in total, over a month of distancing. The truth is, we don’t even know if May 4 th is even a realistic date at this point. One. Big. Unknown.
 
My family gave us Disney+ for Christmas, and so we’ve watched Frozen 2 a couple of times. The song, “Into the Unknown” has been ringing in my ear when I feel the weight of this time.
 
Maundy Thursday is the beginning the solemn, holy days before the festival celebration of Easter. Tonight, we share a meal with loved ones remembering Jesus’ last meal with his friends. Tonight, we wash one another as an act of abiding love, and Jesus’ command to love one another as we have been loved. Tonight, Judas slips out the back door to betray Jesus.
 
Every Maundy Thursday, we remember: tonight is the beginning of the end.
Tonight we go into the unknown.
 
That first Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ disciples and followers had no idea what was coming. That Jesus would be handed over from religious authorities to political authorities to the people for crucifixion, laid in a tomb until…?? Until what? Contrary to today, they weren’t expectantly waiting for resurrection on Sunday. All of the Gospels paint a picture of the disciples hiding together in the Upper Room—cut off from all others, fearful of the unknown.
 
If you’ve seen Frozen 2, you know the story doesn’t stop at that song, rather it is just beginning. Much like our time of staying at home and this long winter of Covid-19. Much like Maundy Thursday is just the beginning of these holy days.
 
We’re not at the happy ending of the movie yet, we’re not at the end of social distancing, and we’re not at the end of the waiting for Easter morning resurrection when we can proclaim: not even death and the grave can contain God’s love and life!
 
We’re still here, in the unknown. In the longing for good news. In the longing for the Good News.
 
Right now we might still be near the beginning, or perhaps somewhere in the middle, or hopefully nearing the end. Wherever we are, we won’t know until we are on the other side.
 
Those who have seen Frozen 2, will know that there is another big song from the movie, sung by the character Anna, in the face of losing her sister, Elsa, losing her best friend, Olaf, and not knowing where her partner, Kristoff, is…so much loss, so much unknown. She sings, “Next Right Thing.” Here are some of the great lines:
 
Can there be a day beyond this night? – I’m sure the disciples asked the same thing.
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take – Easter seems so distant, the good news feels far off.
 
But break it down to this next breath
This next step
This next choice is one that I can make – One breath, one step, one day at a time.
 
So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
The women went to the tomb on Sunday, while the disciples were isolated in the Upper Room out of fear, not because they were sure about resurrection, but because it was the next right thing. Burial customs were the next right thing. The good news of Jesus’ resurrection came as surprise, as unexpected Good News into their unknown.
 
As we choose to stay home, as we choose to distance ourselves, as we choose to limit our time in public spaces, we are showing our love for our neighbors and community.
 
The next right thing that is what you can do today.
 
The next right thing after that is what you can do tomorrow.
 
The unknown of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday do not last forever. Nor will this unknown of Covid-19.
 
The unknown and grief is met with God’s final word: death is real, but death is not final. Love and life will triumph over death, every time.

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