“I was miserable because I lost touch with the heart of the story, the part where life always comes from death. I love the life part, and I always try to skip over that pesky death part. You can’t do that, as much as I’ve tried.
“I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.
“But for a long season, I forgot all those things. I didn’t stop believing in God. It wasn’t a crisis of faith. I prayed and served and pursued a life of faith the way I had before that season and the way I still do now. But I realized all at once, sitting in church on a cold dark night, that the story I was telling was the wrong one - or at the very least, an incomplete one. I had been telling the story about how hard it was. That’s not the whole story…
“Looking back now I can see that it was more than anything a failure to believe in the story of who God is and what he is doing in this world...I wanted an answer, a timeline, and a map. I didn’t want to have to trust God or anything I couldn’t see. I didn’t want to wait or follow. I wanted my old life back…” from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
These words were written and published ten years ago by Shauna Niequist, but I read them for the first time recently. While these words can apply to many situations throughout our lives, they struck me deeply in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
How many of us are saying that we want our old life back? The life where we could meet together for worship and Bible study, when I could just pop into the grocery store to pick up an item for dinner or stop by the bar for a drink with a friend. There are so many times that I want to just return to that life or at the very least, “an answer, a timeline and a map” of when I will be able to return to that life.
We know that God is at work in our world and that God is bringing new life from death, just as God always does. We know that death must happen in order for there to be resurrection. And yet...it can be hard to remember. It can be hard to trust these promises.
During this time, I invite you to reflect:
Where have you seen God?
What has given you a glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth?
What gives you hope?
And after you reflect, I invite you to share. I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you.” Rather than waiting for someone to demand an account, I encourage you to share freely. You could call a friend or another member of the church. You could post your story on your Facebook page. You could tell a neighbor (from a safe distance!). You could email it to Pastor Lecia to share with everyone. During this time, your “account of the hope that is in you” could make all the difference for someone who is struggling. This is a time when people are looking to faith for answers, so you be part of that.
I also invite you to be in prayer for the Risen Lord Leadership Team. As businesses and venues begin to re-open, we will have to make decisions about how we should return to gathering in person. While we long to be together again, there is not “an answer, a timeline and a map” in front of us, so we will look to official recommendations for guidance. Even more than that, we will approach the Lord for guidance. At this moment, we are not sure when that will happen and what it will look like, but we know that God is with us.
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,
P.S. I read an interesting pastoral letter about evangelism during Covid-19 by Bishop Matthew Riegel of West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod of the ELCA. What could you try?