Despite the destruction of tornadoes this week and the tragedy of a mass shooting in Atlanta, I feel a lightness in my being that I haven’t felt in a long while; and I imagine many of you feel it, too.
Signs of spring abound. Vaccine distribution in the US is way ahead of schedule, and finally some of the world’s wealthier countries are starting to make good on their commitments to supply vaccines to less prosperous places. We may even get to hug all the folks we love and sing together in church one day fairly soon. Thanks be to God and all those wonderful scientists, health care workers, public servants, and other essential workers whose labor is bringing us through!
In many ways, this last year has felt like a year-long season of Lent: a year of self-denial of the luxuries we normally enjoy; a year of contemplating our human limits; a year of facing our mortality; a year of confronting sins that still plague us — like self-centeredness, and racial and class disparities in policing, health care, and education.
This year has driven us to our knees in prayer and made us contemplate what really matters; and, ultimately, that’s precisely what Lent is for. The depth of prayer and contemplation to which Lent calls us is a gift, and God knows we need it to disrupt our chasing after things that don’t matter much at all.
Despite its many terrible challenges and losses, so many of you have told me over this past year about the “silver linings” you’ve experienced during this pandemic year: More time with family, in some cases; new and actually deeper relationships with others at church in some cases, too; a chance not to be so awfully busy all the time; a chance to take up painting or piano or writing; a chance to learn new technologies.
As we approach the end of both this year-long pandemic and the liturgical season of Lent, I hope we will enter this long transition back to “normal” by prayerfully mining our experiences of the last year: What has brought us real joy, and a sense of purpose this year? What have we learned during the last year about the world we live in, about God, ourselves, our families and loved ones? What have we learned about church? What elements of our experience of the last year do we want to hold on to, even when the pandemic has passed?
I pray that as individuals, families, and a community, we will contemplate the gifts of God hidden amidst the last year so that our long Lenten season may give rise to a truly glorious Easter.
This comes with Love,