16 Jesus said“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he means.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
There is much talk of reunions at the moment.
Reunions can take different forms. In my first Parish I had a funeral of an elderly gentleman. His eldest had 28 years ago gone like a lot of Borderers to Australia to shear sheep and have an adventure. He was supposed to be away six months but in that time met and fell in love with an Australian girl whom he married. His parents and siblings made the long journey there and he and his bride made plans to visit Scotland, but the effort of setting up home and getting permanent work meant it got put off for a few years. Then children came and it was not practicable to fly around the world with four under tens. Then the expense was too much, so although his parents visited Brisbane regularly he never got back to Scotland. Until of course his Dad died very suddenly. Then a flight was booked and he was home in two days. His body clock was all over the place and he found himself wandering into his old local just at opening time, there was only one other in the bar and the following conversation took place:
“Hiya Tim haven’t seen you in here for a while”
“Well no I’ve been in Australia for the last twenty eight years”
“Yeah thought it had been a while. D’ya want a pint?”
Years ago it was the case that when someone emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, Canada or wherever the chances were there would not be a reunion, as travel was expensive and unreliable if not dangerous. Crichton-Smith in one of his books describes the mother standing on a West Highland headland watching as the ship bearing her son slowly diminish in size until it disappeared altogether, knowing that would be her last sight on Earth of her son.
Jesus’ Disciples were worried and confused (actually they seem to have spent a lot of their time worried and confused) by this talk of parting, but Jesus reassures them they will meet again, and when they meet again all the pain of parting and being apart will be forgotten, and their joy will be so full no one will be able to take it from them.
As we look forward to the ending of Lockdown, we can share in the joy of those who will meet grandchildren or nieces and nephews for the first time, who will hug mums, dads, and other loved ones for the first time in months. Their joy will be full. There will also be the others who can travel to cemeteries or crematorium gardens to say a personal farewell and perhaps their sadness and grief will be assuaged a bit.
However you celebrate your reunions, do so in joy and thankfulness that it has come, and know that your joy cannot be taken from you.
Lord God, our loving Fathe,r as we look forward to reunions with those we love and who love us, may we rejoice at the joys to come; the laughter of children playing together again, men arguing the toss, and mothers sharing the stories of their lock down time. Come, we pray, and share in our reunion and make our joy complete.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,