One of my favorite prayers appears in a confession in the Compline service: “O God… grant that we may serve you in newness of life, to the glory of your name” (Saint Helena Breviary, p. 210.) The phrase “newness of life” comes from Romans 6:4, in which Paul is comparing the risen Christ to his followers who now “walk in newness of life.”
At the convent, it feels like we are walking slowly, in starts and stops, into post-COVIDtide, and we are gradually discerning future plans. We are not yet into the fullness of new life, but some signs, like tiny buds in spring, are becoming apparent.
On the first Pentecost, the disciples were also isolated and they were hiding fearfully in an upper room. The door was locked. They had, in effect, quarantined themselves. Jesus then came among them, and the Holy Spirit propelled them to go out into the world and to share the message of salvation.
I had often thought that it was by the power of the Holy Spirit that they opened the door and went out to begin their ministry. Now I think it was also by human agency, with the companionship of the living Christ, that they gained courage. Jesus had given his life for them, and they now understood that they, like him, could live beyond fear. The Holy Spirit did inspire them to go; the presence of Christ and the gift of salvation sustained them on the way. They were given the gift of “newness of life” in Christ, and the fullness of this new life required that they share it with others.
We are all beginning the post-COVID era, more fully over for some than for others. There is still deep sadness for people, relationships, and experiences lost in the past three years, and it is a challenge to open the door and begin this new journey.
Jesus was also isolated, even from his disciples, who never quite understood him, and yet he never backed away from the vulnerability inherent in his mission. So, like the first disciples, I also am feeling his presence and encouragement to begin to move forward, with joy and gratitude, into the newness of this life.
–Sr. Ellen Francis, OSH
How has moving beyond COVIDtide been for you? What has changed in your relationship with God?