Pastor's March 2021 Letter

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

 

Create in me a clean heart?

 

I am tired of Covid-19. I am tired of remembering to pick up a clean mask before I leave the house. I am tired of rushing to answer the phone because it might be someone I haven’t seen in a while and I might miss their call. I am tired of being confined to my home, my room, my office. I am tired of winter. This has gone on too long, and now, we are looking beyond Easter into the summer. I want to do something, Anything, O Lord, when will this end? When will this be over?

 

Do I need a new heart? Do I need to be cleansed of everything that makes me feel this way? This Covid-19 has gone on for too long. I am tired of waiting for something to change, to be different, to resume some sort of normalcy. I thought Holy Week and Easter might be that opportunity. To be together in church, collectively singing joy and thanksgiving for Jesus’ resurrection and the freeing of our hearts from this unseen, yet stifling time of pandemic. The immunizations brought a temporary hope, but now we have ‘variants.’ The weather seemed to be changing and bringing 

us spring, but then our brothers and sisters in Texas lost nearly everything to freezing temperatures and broken pipes. Our government has ceased to function in any sort of cohesive, forward moving way. Thousands pay homage to a golden idol dressed in American flag underwear. Are we going backwards in time? Have we lost our identity? We wander in a wilderness and cry out like the Israelites “take us back to Egypt, at least there we had food!” Like those slaves, we cry to God to take us from this wilderness and bring us back to what we remember as normalcy.

 

We indeed are in a Lent wilderness that is has gone on far longer than the traditional forty days that all the Biblical references to wildernesses normally last. This time we have gone over a year. A year without family dinners. A year without celebrations. A year without the usual highs that balance out the lows. God has walked with us and has promised to continue to do so. But my heart, and perhaps yours too, is tired, tired and in need of a new creation. Certainly, a lot of things have changed in the past year, and perhaps the problem is that we fear some of the things we loved so much are not coming back. We know that includes loved ones, especially those we did not have the opportunity to mourn the way we wanted to mourn them.  We need that new and right Spirit that God promises in Psalm 51.

 

All of March this year is in the season of Lent. Holy Week is the first week of April. There are four more weeks to pray “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” In this month’s poem by Joyce Rupp, after she clears away the residue created from wandering in the wilderness, she shows how self pre-occupation closes our heart to the reality of what is going on around us. We get stuck in the wilderness and can’t see or find the way out. Sometimes, just repeating a prayer over and over (in a sincere way, not by rote) has a way of beginning to open us up to the reality that God has preserved all around us. The world is still there, and it is as it should be. We just need to do some heart house-cleaning. And that is what Lent is designed to do.

 

Praying in the wilderness of Lent,

Pastor Deborah