Holding ON

It has been an eventful two weeks since I last shared with you.  New revelations around the pandemic response have left us feeling deeply frustrated and even angry.  The stories of violence and racism in encounters between people of color and police continue to come to light.  Then there are the fires all around us, up and down the west coast.  I suspect we know many people who were evacuated from their homes as the fires burned around them.  The poor quality of the air and the smell of smoke have even made the simple act of breathing more challenging than we’re used to.  On top of it all, we are six weeks away from what will be the most consequential election of our lifetime.  Hope, solace and courage seem to be in short supply given the sheer weight of it all.  Like many of you, at the moment, I’m feeling very worn out.  My faith is not diminished.  My confidence in God’s desire to see us through is absolutely as strong as its ever been.  The belief that as a community of faith we will be stronger in our faith and ministry when all of this is behind is strong.  We’re just worn out.

Navigating the Dark Valley

This morning my personal devotion included Psalm 23.  As many times as I’ve read, spoken and preached that text, it took on special significance today, with all that is swirling around us.  I was thinking specifically about “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”  Claiming that truth was balm for my weary heart.  This truth is an important reminder for all of us as we navigate the very uncertain, often tenuous path on which we find ourselves today.  Following the way of God doesn’t guarantee that each step will be through lands of plenty.  We just keep moving…one step at a time…as an act of faith.  This is a call to an active life of faith, even though in times like this it is much easier to be passive in life and faith.  We pause.  Take a deep breath.  We take the next faithful step.  Together.

What It Looks like

Our text for Sunday from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi gives us some insight.  During the difficult and uncertain days of the early church, Paul encourages the people to press ahead.  It might be easier to close the shades, lock the door and wait for the adversity to pass.  Into that all too human response, Paul encourages the church to continue to ‘live a life worthy of the Gospel.’ There is grace, strength and healing that comes when we walk that path, even when we are weary.  With all that is before us in the days and weeks to come, this call can be a beacon for us.  It may seem like a lonely road.  In the time of pandemic distances, we may feel as though there is no one on the road, or even that no one has travelled the path before us.  In these times, it is especially important to stay immersed in the Scriptural reminders that the risen Christ is with us…even to the end of the age.