I was recently with some friends who were talking about the things they learned through the pandemic. And I was surprised at how many good things everyone had learned. “I actually need to do less and enjoy more.” “I discovered daily prayer and Bible reading, and I’m never going back.” “I discovered I can say ‘no’ to things I don’t find interesting or life-giving.” The list went on and on. Not small stuff! Big discoveries that came only because we had time to not do all the things we thought we’d do if we had the time. What did you discover about yourself, or about God, or about “life” over the last two years?
I say I was surprised at how many beautiful and positive things came out of hardship and challenge. I have been trying to follow Christ for most of my life, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, of course. It’s in the storms on the lake that the disciples discover who Jesus really is. It's among the sick and the poor. It’s among the hungry when there isn’t enough food. So why was I surprised that the deepest life might be in the loneliness and uncertainties of these recent times? Of course, God redeems the darkest Good Friday and our own dark days. As we look ahead to August, I am hearing rumblings of a roller coaster with some more masks and social distancing and, therefore, perhaps days without singing in worship or even in-person worship together again. I don’t know where we’re headed. And I dread the uncertainties and difficult possibilities. But I have learned what I have been taught by the Holy Spirit so many times before. Challenges in life are inevitable. But God is there and great good comes out of even the darkest storms.
I am so grateful to be with you all through these strange and dark days. I am grateful for the days we can gather together and hug and sing God’s praise. And, while I have to work at it a little more, I am trying to be grateful for the darker days as well. It is a blessing to be with you and to know we all have God with us through all of this. May the worst storms be past, but if that is not the way it shall be, then may we weather the storms together and for others in need in the arms of one who walks on water and calms the storms; the one who dies a terrible death on a cross only to bring us all home through every storm life might offer us. How have you met Jesus in the storm and how will you be with him in the days of clearing and new beginnings?
The Very Rev. Gary Barker