Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
If one were to take the words of Jesus literally, which, as per my last blog post, I do not (and think it may even be doing them a disservice to do so, given how rich in meaning they are beneath the surface of the literal), we might have problems with this verse. The spirit of God may indeed be with you; so, too, may COVID-19.
So it goes.
There is certainly something very potent that arises from groups of people uniting around a common goal; something greater than the sum of its parts. I believe Jesus was speaking of exactly this when he said those words; the almost magical synchronicity of a conversation with friends where it feels like your soul is being gently realigned, the gentle focus in the silent moments of a church service (or, indeed, a Quaker meeting), the quiet industry of a university library at exam time.
(A few weeks ago, I went to my last orchestra rehearsal for who knows how long. I have always found playing music in large groups of people to be an extremely powerful experience, but this was new. Our last piece we played was the finale of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and there were tears in my eyes as we finished. We spoke the same language although no words were said; we poured all our fears and anxieties into something and saw them reflected back, changed through our collective work into something beautiful.)
So what do we do in the face of social distancing and lockdown? We move the goalposts. Why do two or three need to be gathered in the same room, after all? Why can’t they gather on Zoom, or Adobe Connect, or whatever video conferencing software they have?
Paradoxically, COVID-19 has rendered spatial boundaries meaningless, even as it has erected them. Suddenly, it matters far less where you are in the world, as we find new and creative ways to connect with each other from our own homes. Wherever two or three are gathered seems rather redundant now, because should we choose to be so, should we choose to invoke the name of love, thus we always are.
I like to read Jesus’ parables as if, sometimes, they were little private jokes.
Wherever two or three are gathered, there I am too. But dear one, you live on a planet with millions of others. You are always gathered, whether you feel it or not, and therefore, I am always with you. I am that constant. I am a symbol of enduring love, of the creative power of life, of constancy. Recognise this, in the name of God who is love. Find me in yourself, in others, in all the beings you share this wonderful, majestic universe with. I am there.