And what a time it is – eight weeks of such a time to be exact – with an unknown time of uncertainty before us. As the COVID-19 related deaths and illnesses continue to grow, we are reminded of just how fragile our lives are. We are reminded of the particular cruelty of this pandemic that has ripped us apart from one another and those we love who find themselves in hospitals, isolated from a loving touch for fear that the virus will spread. We impatiently wait for a flattening of the curve in hopes that life will return to normal. Well as you know by now, whatever normal will look like, it will not look like what it had been before March 2020. It is unlikely that most of us will gather for worship in large groups for some time – singing is potentially at risk; the way we share communion; the collection of offering – all will need to be reconsidered and reframed.
My pastoral mind goes to those who found themselves exiled in the Biblical narrative – longing for the return to their way of life – to their homeland. As we know their homeland was not what they had expected – it did not live into the images of the memories they had formed in their minds while surviving their exilic existence in Babylon or even in the wilderness. They were challenged to build their new lives on the rubble and disappointments they encountered.
And like them, as we long for this new dawn, we are challenged and called to help mold and shape what that new reality looks like – for as Esther was reminded by her uncle Mordecai, I sincerely believe you and I have been called for such a time as this – a time that was uninvited, unwanted, and uncharted. It is a time calling for unbounded faithfulness, creativity, imagination, and love – as we together build a new way of life. It is a time that is calling upon us to continue as a Matthew 25 presbytery by equipping our churches and strengthening our leaders serving in congregations, hospitals, retirement communities, community ministries, faith-based organizations, and being a presence of hope in every aspect of our societal reality. It is a time that requires we re-imagine and rebuild our church structures, we are mindful of our witness in the world – a witness that requires us to resist all forces that encourage racism and isms of all kinds, economic disparity, hate, etc.. We cannot allow our concern for rebuilding distract us from our call to reflect Jesus’ hope in the world – for we were not created simply to be a blessing among ourselves – instead to be a blessing to others.
And we have witnessed that blessing over the past eight weeks, as you have sought faithfully to provide food, shelter, and community to those who have been even more severely impacted by this pandemic causing unemployment to soar. We have witnessed that blessing as you have sought to gather children, youth, and adults virtually – strengthening the human connection amidst the physical distance, offering an alternative reality of hope in the midst of the reality of uncertainty, an uncertainty that will continue with us for some time.
In just eight days, we will gather virtually for the first time as a presbytery. This will be a historic gathering, requiring an openness and intentionality of spirit as we venture into our first-ever “virtual” presbytery meeting. I must confess, there is a level of uncertainty as we embark on this moment. That being said, we are excited about seeing your faces and hearing your voices. We truly hope you will join us – more than 60 have registered already as I type. Let’s do this together – let’s lean into the uncertainty faithfully embodying the hope of the resurrection – for you and I – we have been called “for a time such as this.”