] For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ... a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing ... (From Ecclesiastes 3).
We are in a season we have never quite experienced before. Yet it is still a season under heaven. That is not to say that God ordained this virus. Rather it is to say that God redeems all times and places. And God calls us to be a part of that redemption.
In this season of not leaving home in order to reduce the dangers of the virus spreading to ourselves, those we love, and especially those who are vulnerable because of age and medical conditions, we are blessed with the chance to be faithful by being disciplined at home. Even those of us who are, like myself, introverted homebodies by nature, are finding this discipleship challenging. But this is the season for a love that shows itself by staying home.
This is a season to stop and pray. This is a season to call a friend on the phone. This is a season to clean out that closet. This is a season to bake bread. This is a season to love those in your home with you. This is a season to stop all our busy-ness and face the reality of who we are by God’ Grace rather than what we are by what we do.
Jesus began his ministry by going off alone for a long, long time. Moses spent – according to the people at the bottom of the mountain – way too much time away and alone with God. The great Celtic saints I love, notably Columba, Aidan and Cuthbert each had “hideaways” – places they would go alone to be with God so they could be grounded to do the ministry God gave them to do when the season came to be engaged in the community again. We have long been people who have neglected our time away. If we go to the desert, we go with an RV, picnics and televisions and smartphones. Mount Sinai is quiet not because God is not present, but because we are too busy to stop and wait and watch before the holiness of the burning bush. We don’t want to take off our shoes on this holy ground; we have too many places we imagine we need run.
This is not a season of waste or a time only of trial. This is not a season only for fear and uncertainty, but a season for faith and worship. This is a time for us to engage in the deep and life-giving work of prayer. This is our time to set priorities and discover direction. This is our time to love from afar.
How are you living in this season? How are you being the church of Jesus Christ in this time? (For surely we have had to learn that church is not a building or an hour on Sunday morning, but just as Scripture tells us, it is the Body of Christ doing the work of God in the world; church is us.) May God bless you in this season of not embracing. And may we each bless God in these days also.
God’s Peace, Be Safe, Be Faithful, Be Loving,
The Very Rev. Gary Barker