It’s Holy Week: the week leading up to Easter. This is one of the two most important weeks in the Christian Year (the other is the celebration of Christmas). In this week, we remember Jesus’ final days of life as a human being: his last supper with his disciples, then his betrayal by Judas, his arrest, trial, dying on the cross, and burial in a rock-hewn tomb.
There are a lot of people dying this week. COVID-19 is ravaging the world, and especially the United States. (After decades of proudly claiming to lead the world in so many ways, now America leads the world in this way, too. Pride does indeed come before a fall….)
It’s a challenging time to live with faith, when we hear about thousands dying all around us, and perhaps very close to us. My husband, Henry, worked for a time as a hospice chaplain. We’ve talked a lot about dying. We’ve also talked about the challenge of dying alone, which is something that he has always wanted to prevent.
Yet, with COVID-19, hundreds are dying alone each day, because we realistically fear that being with them might cause our deaths too. Even so, it’s still very difficult not to be with loved ones in such important times.
The good news is that every one of those people is not truly alone. (And yes, I mean every one. Like Richard Rohr, I cannot believe that God would abandon any part of God’s creation, especially in time of need.) Christ’s death on the cross was about being alongside us in every aspect of being human—including illness, betrayal, arrest, trial, death, and burial. Christ continues to die alongside us every day, in hospital beds and family houses, in dark alleys and bright nursing homes.
We are never truly alone. The God who created us also sustains us through the Holy Spirit, even in these most challenging and frightening days. While this Holy Week may feel particularly hopeless, humanity has survived other plagues in other centuries. We will get through this one too. God is with us, even in the hour of death.
Resurrection is coming. Have faith.