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Today’s gospel reading turns on a dime. First everyone loves Jesus. Then everyone is shouting “crucify him!” It is a story of collective failure. People who should know better are revealing their worst selves, shouting for law and order, even death.

            And yet at the same time we know this same story of collective failure, already hints toward a different reality. The in-breaking of God’s love, which turns people away from selfishness, fear, and injustice, towards working for the collective good. Away from the insular gaze of looking out for our own, turning outwards towards love of neighbour.

            This is also our story during COVID-19. On the one hand we gaze upon a seemingly unstoppable force which has the power to kill and at times bringing out the worst in people. On the other hand we’ve observed a collective response of grace and love.

            By no means an exhaustive list, here are a few things I’ve observed in recent weeks in and around Church of the Cross:  

Church members calling up people in the church and neighbours checking in on them. Asking them how they are doing, whether they need any groceries or medications picked up, whether they are able to access worship on-line or whether they need hard copies of worship materials.  

Some of you are frontline workers, whether working at care homes such as our neighbours at Luther Court or other institutions. Others are helping with organizing better access to resources for people in Victoria who are homeless. The City of Victoria has opened up more parks for people to camp in, in order to help give people more physical distance between tents.  

We’ve seen cultural institutions and companies offer access to museums, archives, and the arts in order to share with folks during this time.  

I have heard from people who are trans and racialized who have felt more vulnerable without access to various support structures.  

We’ve heard from the Shelbourne Community Kitchen providing food to people in need. We are proud that the Kitchen’s cold and dry food storage is located beneath where I am standing here in the sanctuary.  

We think about public leaders, both elected and government workers, who are rising to the challenge. Pubic health officials putting the collective good ahead of other interests.  

For us as Christians, events in the time of COVID-19 reveal to us the paradoxical power of the cross. Acknowledging the presence of illness and death, we are attuned to God’s presence of grace. We trust that the Spirit is at work in our midst, presenting us with opportunities to love one another all the more.  

Let us continue finding ways to live out our faith with acts of love. And grace for those who are feeling ill, depressed, sad, scared, or angry, that’s okay too. It’s not a time we need to become super-disciples. We don’t have to love Jesus twice as much. God already loves us the way we are, amidst our brokenness, amidst our doubts and questions, amidst all the ways we are limited to do more or take on extra duties.  

Grace is the ability to breathe in a time we can’t seem to catch our breath. So let’s take a moment to breathe right now.  

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.  

Feel that? That’s a moment of grace.  

Know that you are loved. That you are enough. That together we can rise to the challenge and support one another through this time. Amen.