The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu describes emptiness in this way:
Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel.
But it is where the wheel isn’t (the center hole) that allows the wheel to function.
Hollowed out clay makes a pot.
But where the pot is not is where the vessel becomes useful.
We fashion wood for a house.
But it is the emptiness inside that makes it livable.
We work with the substantial …
But the emptiness is what we use.
According to Lao Tsu, emptiness has great value and reminds us to see emptiness as a positive; that which supports function AND bears forth possibility!
As a matter of faith:
Emptiness was the condition for Creation – God created from a formless, empty space.
Emptiness was the condition for Resurrection – an empty tomb signaled new life.
Emptiness in our world today, we respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic, may just be the condition for new life in 2020 and beyond.
Recently, I found myself struggling mightily with the emptiness I see and experience all around the world today. Emptiness leads to a sense of longing, loneliness, and even sometimes anger and despair. On a particularly hard day a dear friend send me this simple reminder: The Church is not empty – the Church has simply been deployed!
I love that!
What if this crisis were actually giving us permission to use the emptiness around us in new and exciting ways? To reshape and reconfigure. To remake and redesign. What if this is helping us to really understand that the Church of Jesus Christ is not dependent on bricks and mortar, but will live because the followers of a living God are out in the world building a new day?!
Beloveds, these are indeed extreme days in which we are living. As a way of connecting, across the distance I would love for you to share about your personal experiences of deployment. What are YOU doing out in the world today that is an expression of your faith? How are you ‘being’ the church even when we are not at the church? Send responses to Rhonda Mitchell at email@example.com.
The tomb is empty, he is not there, for he was risen, go out into the world – it is there that we will see him.
Take good care of yourselves, be well, and stay strong!
And know that you are loved deeply and truly.