Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you. (Isaiah 60:1-3; BCP 87)
Yesterday evening, my Twitter feed and then the news filled with images and video of Walter Scott being shot so casually by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.
Meanwhile, back on NCIS (Tuesday night is NCIS night) the usual storyline unfolds, and Gibbs very casually shoots the arms dealer who has killed a Marine; as often happens on NCIS, the show ends with an emotional appeal for gifts in memory of fallen Marines.
On NCIS: New Orleans, a hostage situation unfolds, met with the entirely understandable armoring of the FBI and a Navy SWAT team.
Through the gloom, the evening starts to feels like the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion — the Roman Empire says “force wins,” the religious people say “it’s better for one person to die for the country,” the criminal gets taken down, and protests over his death are met with a carefully crafted story and an extra layer of security: “Otherwise, his disciples may go and steal him away” (Matthew 27:62-66).
It’s so hard to proclaim Easter when it’s gloomy like this. It’s so hard not to retreat, not to try to close out the news.
But it gets better.
This morning in my Facebook feed, a friend shared a link to a reflection by New Jersey relationship columnist Anthony D’ambrosio on marriage and divorce.
One of the five reasons D’ambrosio cites “why marriage just doesn’t work anymore” is our alienation from each other because of all the devices and screens that surround us (I chuckle as I read in the living room; I can hear my wife tapping away on her laptop in the kitchen).
I can also hear the disciples walking on the Emmaus road shaking their heads in dismay. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had high hopes.”
The stranger who joins them, and who accepts their polite invitation to a meal, opens the eyes of their faith in the way he breaks and blesses the bread (Luke 24:13-35).
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP 223)
Perhaps simpler gestures of communion will pierce the deep gloom that enshrouds us.
Perhaps seeing each other through the eyes of faith — not as dangerous criminals, not as armed storm troopers, not as self-absorbed people pushing each other away on purpose — perhaps seeing each other is the first step to seeing the Risen Lord.
“Over you the Lord will rise,” says Isaiah, “and his glory will appear upon you.” Perhaps if we make time and space (and a place) to sit with each other, we will have a chance truly to see each other.
Give us eyes to see each other, O Lord, not to look past each other. Give us pause before we alienate one another again. Give us hunger to share a meal with each other, and in our breaking bread together to see you with us.