There is good news on the horizon as some restrictions from the Stay Home directive are being lifted. We’re all cautiously optimistic about the immediate future and look forward to easing back into community in all of its aspects. But life will be different in the days ahead. It will be some time before the economy recovers, and we will be living with new standards of hygiene and contact for a while longer—perhaps in some ways a new normal will retain some of these practices permanently. That it will be a new kind of normal is a helpful reminder. And this pertains to some of what we’ve discovered about spiritual vitality and new opportunities for deeper life discovered while we’ve been kept at home. By now, much of what might have prevented serious pursuit of deeper life has been sufficiently removed from our default behaviors and thought. My suggestion is that we not rush to invite them back in. We’ve eased into a slower rhythm, or perhaps a closer level of connection with those in our household—maybe there’s been friction in that because it was involuntary and other obligations didn’t cease as abruptly as the new reality arrived. But what have you learned about yourself, about those closest to you, about your relationship with Jesus? In what ways can you be grateful for these new insights and the implications they bring as well?
While restrictions ease, our mood naturally lifts and there will be a tendency to want to put all this behind us as a fresh start beckons. As tempting as this is, please remember the human toll that has already occurred, and that continues even as states “open up.” Persons are still suffering with the effects of COVID-19. Health care providers are still engaged in treating people. Families are still mourning loss. Part of our responsibility as Christ followers is to pray on behalf of the world—and sometimes the world is just that slice of it that touches you, or that you’re aware of, or that you’re burdened for. But don’t neglect the obligation to pray. Some prayers will be offered as lament: acknowledging crisis, recognizing need, seeking God, then trusting God for outcome. Some praying will be intercessory—praying on behalf of another. Some will simply seek mercy. As we return prayers of thanksgiving for God’s blessing and care over us, don’t leave off praying for a world yet afflicted.
Mom’s day is this Sunday. Of course it’s different this year—no brunches, no large gathering. Perhaps, though, this can be a deeper Mom’s day experience as you set aside time in your day to clearly and honestly express your heartfelt appreciation and love for her in your own words instead of those purchased. Recognize the difference your Mom makes (or made) not just in your life, but in her community, her circle of acquaintances, her career or job, her interests or causes. Celebrate the lessons you’ve learned from all of this and more. I also recognize that this day might be hard for others because of longings left unmet, or of history filled with pain and hurt instead of joy. Yet this can also find fulfillment on this day. What if you began a journey towards joy in your present circumstances—just decide to discover the joy there is right now and settle into this so that your joy isn’t dependent on what should happen or come, but is dependent on what is, however slight that might be, it is reality and that is the only place we ever meet God and discover what God has for us. If your history is the issue, what if you forgave, yourself or your Mom for whatever it was or is that prevents joy? How might your life change if you simply let go of the need to hold out for retribution, or justice, or an apology? How much energy might be redirected into positive experience?
We’re going to be in John chapter 14 this Sunday where we consider a very familiar passage that I hope will challenge you in a new direction as the result of our time together. By the way, though the governor is allowing drive-in worship services, we won’t be offering this. We will continue to live stream worship on Sunday mornings at 10—thanks for inviting us into your home for that time! One more quick note—Jazz Vespers, normally offered the second Sunday of the month, will be pushed to next week, the 17th, for just this month. We’ve had some equipment upgrades to improve the experience that need an extra week to get up to speed. That’s it for the moment—be salt and light!