Sermon of the Week
Courage for Lent: Waiting in the Valley
The fifth of a five part sermon series for Lent. #pcusa
Keywords: Valley of Dry Bones, Out of the Depths, Waiting for the Morning, Resilience, Day of the Dead.
How has this week been for you?
I remember thinking, way back in January,
how fast life has been going
and wondering if it was ever going to slow down.
There were the normal things, the expected things:
my kids are growing up way too fast, for instance.
That’s normal. Kids always grow up too fast, it seems.
For us it was watching them tackle geometry and guitar and lacrosse
with maturity and skill,
remembering the time, not all that long ago
when they were trying to master subtraction and tying shoes…
What is happening? I thought.
If I blink, they might be off at college, you know?
There was that,
and then there was the incessant national stress
that just kept getting faster and faster, wilder and wilder.
Two months ago,
Impeachment and missiles in Iran and Koby Bryant and the Iowa Caucuses
were the headlines in the New York Times.
These things seem to add on to the anxieties of our everyday lives,
and the friends I know
whose job it is to observe and report these sorts of things
were exhausted by all of it.
The smart ones learned long ago about the practice of sabbath
of taking breaks
and it has made them better at their work because of it.
And to add to all of that,
for those of us who chronicle time not just by the secular calendar
but who also follow a liturgical calendar,
a way for us to look for God, moving in the world in a different way,
for us, the movement from Christmas through January as you head toward Lent,
this season of reflection and introspection that we’re in right now
on our way to Holy Week and Good Friday and … maybe … hopefully
the faint promise of resurrection that lies beyond,
suffice it to say these months have been full, and fast.
Add it all together,
and every day has been feeling like a week.
Every week feels like a month.
That’s what it felt like just a couple of weeks ago.
But if you were to ask me how THIS week has been,
I’d probably describe it as something like
trying to lay track while conducting a train,
not only is the train going faster and faster
but we’re in new and uncharted territory,
trying to ensure that the train has a place to go
as we’re rushing along.
That’s hard, man.
None of us have experience with such sweeping cultural change as this.
Maybe that’s a sign of the stability and good fortune we’ve had in this country
largely free of warfare and famine and chaos and the like,
stressors that aren’t-so-foreign elsewhere, unfortunately,
conditions which could maybe mirror some of this that we’re feeling.
It certainly has me feeling more empathy for those
refugees fleeing violent places
or for countries that don’t regularly have enough toilet paper on the shelves.
It has me feeling more grateful for what we all have
as tentative and as tenuous as it has felt of late.
We’re all trying to figure all this out as we go, and nothing very sophisticated:
What do we do about work?
How do we explain all of this to our kids?
Do we have a way to get food? Do we have enough soap?
Do I have a plan for my hair when it grows down to my shoulders?
Ok, maybe that’s not really on my mind these days
and I really should just be glad that I still have my hair.
It isn’t so much that we’re all in a wait-and-see-mode,
because we are all having to do so much to adapt
and then it feels like every change we make gets preempted by something
and we have to adapt yet again.
It’s a lot.
So if my own experience describes you at all, I see you.
I wish I could say that I thought it would all be over soon,
that we could just get back to our lives,
to seeing our friends
to checking in with our loved ones
to rescheduling our dentist appointments and so-called elective surgeries
and letting our kids play on the playground equipment and all the rest
though I think I’ll always try to wash my hands for 20 seconds now, no matter what.
But it doesn’t look like we’re anywhere close yet. [Read more…]