I admit it. I struggled with what to write for this month’s pastor’s article. My life, my thoughts, my emotions have been all over the place since the holidays. Like so many of you I am exhausted by this Coronavirus pandemic and all the restrictions and inconveniences living safely and for the safety of others requires on a daily basis. My daughter’s wedding plans are likely to change as so many wedding couples have had to change in the last ten months. Add to that my sister’s in-laws are now battling the virus with severe symptoms and other in-laws also have the disease. My best friend of over forty years died unexpectedly, and Covid kept some from attending his funeral and all of us being able to mourn and celebrate his life as we typically would do at a funeral. Two days later the Capitol was besieged by protestors turned domestic terrorists. Now there is grave concern for violence or attack on Inauguration Day. The President has been impeached…again. And if that wasn’t enough the Eagles ended the season in the basement of the NFC East and have fired their Superbowl LII winning coach.
Do you remember what the Old Testament reading was for that day? Probably not. I’ll never forget them. It’s Isaiah 40:21-31 where the prophet reminds the Israelites suffering in captivity; “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like an eagle, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.”
These are words of hope for those who trust in the God who created all things. How does Luther explain what believing in God the Father in the Small Catechism includes? “I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul; eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses (even when Covid robs us of our sense of smell and taste); reason and all mental faculties (even when the world seems to have lost its mind).” He goes on to explain how God provides us with all that we need for body and life “out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all!”
I don’t know about you but these words comfort me in the midst of my grief, my sorrow, my anxiousness, and my feeling weighed down by the troubles of the world. My friend, Glen, may be dead, but his faith and trust in God to provide and the Holy Spirit to lead him in his family in a life of following a risen Savior enabled him to experience joy even in the bleakest of times. I remember his smile and infections laugh and my soul begins to soar.
Today I received my first of two Covid vaccination shots along with other clergy in the Virtua systems area who were provid- ing them to local clergy. The hope of a cure is not a myth or fake news. It’s flowing through my bloodstream and soon it will be in yours too! Instead of being winded I feel I could run a half-marathon!
In the face of white supremacist violence and insurrection there is also the new inter-racial relationships our congregation has begun to form with the congregation of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in Haddonfield (a predominantly Black church) in creating a youth “drop-in” center out of their parsonage for youth of any skin color and begin to work together in promoting antirac- ist policies and regulations in our area and state. This hope enables me to walk and not be faint.
We are living in tough and troublesome times for sure. Yet, we do not journey alone. Christ is with us. The God who raised Jesus is the same God who promises new life through death and a new dawn on the other side of night. The Eagles may be grounded for this season but for those who trust in the LORD our strength will be renewed and we shall mount up and fly!