It Is OK to Grieve What We’ve Sacrificed
As we hear the news about families with COVID 19 infected members and health care workers on the front lines of caring for the most seriously ill persons, it is easy to downplay our own sense of loss. In a whole of community pandemic response we are all being asked to sacrifice events and experiences are important to us. This is not a competition. There are not prizes for who sacrifices the most. In this environment we will grieve differently. However, it is vital that we allow ourself to grieve. Our daughter and her fiancé were due to be married last week. It was supposed to be a destination wedding. For months we had been planning and looking forward to it. Then it was gone. Janessa and Sam made the decision, out of a concern for the health of family and friends, to postpone the wedding. It was absolutely the right decision, but I grieve that loss nonetheless. What I discovered was, in order to let it go, I had to grieve it. Whatever you have lost, whatever you have sacrificed, take time to grieve it before it can become toxic.
Healing and New Life
One of the most important pieces of our faith tradition as Christians is the promise of new life. We are rapidly approaching an Easter experience that will be unlike anything we have ever experienced. It is on that day, as we celebrated the resurrected Jesus, that we see the full power and purpose of God on display. The whole event is about God’s desire to bring life in every situation, even in death. This is a vital anchor for us during the time of the COVID 19 pandemic. Beyond our individual and collective experiences of loss and sacrifice, God continues to work God’s purpose. Even though we have a difficult time visualizing when and how we move past this time of distancing and separation a day of renewal and restoration are coming, because this is what God does. Holding on to this hope is not an exercise in pollyanna or avoidance of reality. When we are willing to see beyond this moment of loss into the work that God is doing we take our place alongside our forbearers in the faith. We are able to take the next step with God.
A Powerful Image of Hope
Living into this hope will be the focus of our worship this week. We will explore the powerful image of the Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel 37. This text is vivid image of restoration and renewal that is shared with a community that feels as though they have lost everything. The people of Israel have experience social, political, spiritual and economic devastation on unprecedented levels. They feel utterly desolate. Into this desolation, God calls the prophet Ezekiel to speak this image of how God is going to reconstitute and reenergize the community. I find this image to speak deeply to my own feelings of uncertainty, frustration and fear. While we don’t know how long this season in our life will last, this text reminds that God is at work in us and through us to bring restoration and renewal to the community.