I am not going to forget leading our church through the Easter of 2020. It felt like, rather than us heading off to attend Good Friday, it came to us. We couldn’t escape it; the death, burial, silence and uncertainty. The feeling of “surely it wasn’t meant to turn out this way”. 

And then, the resurrection. It bursts into the same world — one where Rome was still in charge and crucifixes were still on hills, but there is a whole new story within it. A new life had entered into the land of death and dying.
And this Easter something struck me about this moment. The followers of Jesus had to figure out what to do with this new story they found themselves in. Jesus had disrupted things and called them to the edge of a new future. A new message was being declared as good news; God’s kingdom is at hand. He is making things new. Do they go back to how things were, or do they go on? And if they go forward, then what do they take with them and what do they leave behind?

Exploration of the early days of the Jesus Way shows us their answer; they chose to respond to the call of the new. But also worth noting is how this small Jewish sect didn’t go back to normal, but adapted from their story so far and innovated into the future. They packed with what was most essential and on they went into a new future. 


 

They threw in the best of their rhythmic and communal way of life and grafted it to what Jesus had given them. Some of what they used to do, ended up getting packed into storage. Some even got thrown out. Part of the Acts portrait of the early church shows us a group of people who communally shared life and served needs. There were signs, wonders and miracles, and yet simplicity, routine and care. Some of the ways of the Temple were expanded on, others just got left there. Perhaps the most significant thing that was packed into storage was the boundary lines of exclusion — that was put in the box right at the back of the storage room. 

Moments like Covid-19 are a gift of opportunity. We are entering a global moment of great need and the Church has two options: will we pack to conserve the past or pack to innovate a future. Depending on where we want to go, we will pack accordingly. This hour calls us to get back to the essentials of travel and not all the luxuries that can come with us.

In packing for a different world ahead, I have been trying to reconnect with the essentials of this original story as I prepare to navigate the future. Some of my beloved practises and ideas from February, have to be left behind, and some have to go into storage for a while. I grieve that we may not gather to worship all together anytime soon. A planned sermon series had to be discarded for now. But we can magnify other parts of the portrait: communal life together and serving needs. These are in the DNA of the Church, so how will we make new spaces for a richer local connection, care and service?

Everything has changed, so let’s pack for the future of resurrection adventure.