I grew up in the capital city. I was raised to be cautious. When I was on the bus, I would hold my purse. When I went somewhere by car, I would make sure not to leave anything in the car and of course, I would always lock it. The same at home, especially in the evening time! Not that my family or I had a bad experience – thank God, no – but you learn to be cautious because you hear the stories. So I was always cautious because what if, right?

What if-s happen! It was several years ago. I woke up to a guy standing over our bed, dressed in nothing but his boxers – I know, too much information! David jumped out and over me, a little bit panicky I would say, but then again, who wouldn’t be, right? And I remember hearing, “It’s me, Jim.” And immediately it hit me! We have no friend called “Jim!” Now it was me who was panicky, and who wouldn’t be, right?

Is my baby okay? Are we being robbed? Does he have a gun? Where’s the phone? – Ran to the nursery, dialed 911. Meanwhile, David and Jimmy are going down the stairs, Jimmy trying to “refresh” David’s memory, constantly reminding him that it’s him, you know, Jim! I can guarantee you that David could give you a detailed summary of how he felt and what he thought as he was “leading” Jimmy down the stairs and then out of the house. Thankfully, Jimmy was not armed – he was just so out of it that he assumed it was his house. And again, thankfully, he did not protest too much when David locked him out of the house.

Once he was outside and cruising around the house so as to find an open door or window – it was quite chilly, after all, and all his clothes were still lying on our couch – well, how to say it, I started freaking out. I knew it would be at least 20 minutes for the police to get to Roscoe, all the way from Liberty, New York, and what if he breaks one of the windows? Needless to say, ever since then, David and I make extra sure to lock all the doors. And so did the disciples that night. Their teacher and friend was sentenced to death as an insurrectionist and enemy of the state – they were his followers, after all, what if the same fate is awaiting them, too? And then, apparently, his body is missing! What if they are accused of stealing it? And then add sadness, grief, and loss into the mix, and you’ll end up with an emotionally disturbed group of people, hiding behind the locked doors, not knowing how to make sense of what has happened in the last few days.

We’ve been there. We’ve experienced fear and anxiety. We’ve been disturbed and confused. We’ve locked ourselves in. Whether it’s Jimmy, or a death of our loved one, or a frightening diagnosis: We all walked through that dark valley, we all have had our “Maundy Thursdays” and “Good Fridays,” we all can somewhat relate. But if there’s one thing that I’d hope we’ve learned from worshipping throughout the Holy Week and Easter Sunday, and life in general, it’s the fact that no matter how hard, how dark, or how tough things are, we are not alone, we are not forsaken by God, God is with us. And thank God – God doesn’t do things the way we’d expect. God surprises us and meets us right there in our need, whatever it is, wherever it is, and whenever it is.

So this season I pray that our hearts rest in God’s faith and God’s love for us. I pray that our fears, anxieties, and dark valley experiences will not lock us in. There may be Jimmies, frightening diagnoses, losses, and other challenges we may be facing, but I pray that we truly see that God’s love is poured out abundantly for all of us – and God will see us through. Out of death comes life. Out of Christ’s death comes life for us. For God so loved the world.

Happy Monday,

Pastor Romi