The Power of Presence
The Easter Season, the liturgical church season following Easter, is the time set aside by the early church leaders to help Christians celebrate the presence of risen Jesus with his followers. Disciples were “traumatized” by seeing Jesus crucified on false charges of heresy against the Jewish faith and citing an insurrection against the Roman empire. The accounts of Jesus appearing for 40 days between resurrection and ascension provided “PTSD” suffering followers healing and hope.
History shows that a communal trauma can have generational effects in the US: 400 years of enslavement, discrimination, and systemic racism has had a traumatic impact on the Africa American community, the concentration camp has led to collective Japanese Americans group trauma on identity and collective psyche, and generations of genocide and degradation of native cultures led to the pandemic of self-hatred among the native peoples. I have also met with groups of Palestinians who talked about their collective generational trauma resulting from the brutality of Israeli apartheid. The Palestinian experience is likened to South African Apartheid by Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The pandemic has shown us that there is a communal trauma of isolation. There is an increase in depression, anxiety, fear, and loss in the community. Beyond the economic trauma many have experienced due to the lockdown, one of the responsibilities that we will have as a faith community is to provide social and emotional support. As a Church, we have to ask how we can be better post-pandemic than before the pandemic.
One of our focuses will have to be to make an effort to be present in the community. This means we will have to find ways to connect with people and be the agent of communal gatherings. We have been working on a plan to do outdoor family movie nights, and the plan includes purchasing an outdoor movie screen as well as a new projector. We need many more new ideas and people willing to spend time meeting the people in the community.
Through our presence, we will live out the power of Jesus for healing. We will be the agent of hope in the community addressing those who are traumatized by the pandemic. We will show that the invisible Spirit of God in the people of God is more powerful than the invisible virus. Let our presence be the power of God in the community. Let us be better than before.