Sunday, March 22, 2020
Dear St. Martin’s family and friends,
Blessings to you on this Fourth Sunday of Lent! What a challenging Lenten journey this has become. I know it’s only been a week since our last worship service; but what a week it has been. I miss you so much. Oh how I wish we could jump to the end of this crisis. Unfortunately, it appears we’re only at the beginning. Nevertheless, I hope you are all staying indoors (with the noted exceptions from our leaders) and remaining safe. I also pray you are staying encouraged. As we’ve heard week after week during this amazing month of powerful women preachers, God is still in our midst!!
I am so proud of you St. Martin’s. I know you have remained in contact with one another and you are caring for one another. The love we have for one another has been palpable. St. Martin’s is truly what a faith community is all about. I thank God for you.
Just in case you have not yet picked a Lenten discipline—we are just past the half-way point—I invite you to join me in praying together at noon everyday for St. Martin’s, even if it’s just a brief, “God watch over us and heal us at St. Martin’s, in Jesus’ name.” Our sisters Celeste and Alice have proposed this practice, and I think it is an excellent one. If you’re feeling the urge, or unction, to deepen this practice, please consider adding additional moments of prayer throughout the day, such as 3 pm, 6pm and or 9pm. “The fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much.” (James 5:16)
These are challenging times indeed. However, I think the leadership offered by our bishop, mayor and governor has been great. Please add them to your prayer time as well.
I am so sorry that I am not on top of social media and the corresponding technologies that support us. But we do have some aficionados among us who will help me / us move forward and develop ways we will be able to be with each other and see one another. So, stay tuned.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. John 9:1-7
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
John 9:24, 25
The Coronavirus is definitely changing the world as we know it. It has many of us anxious and uneasy from the rapid rates of infection and transmission around the world and the corresponding uncertainties of When? Why? And How long? We have all heard the importance of “social distancing”, which is a challenge in and of itself, especially for people of faith. We at St. Martin’s love our hugs and kisses during the Passing of the Peace. How long can we live without touching? How long can we make it without answers?
Oh the questions… The disciples wanted to know, as well as the Pharisees, how did this “blindness” happen? As with many ailments, sudden crises and other inexplicable occurrences, we try to understand what is going on. We become philosophers and theologians of sorts. In a recent conversation about the coronavirus with family, my nephew posed the question, “How did we get here?” His mother, my sister, chimed in, “How do we get out of here?” In another exchange, a close friend and colleague, proposed that this global crisis may be part of God’s permissive will and added that perhaps this is a sign that reveals that God is not pleased with how we’ve been (mis)treating each other, and neglecting the vulnerable among us or how we’ve been handling, or mis-appropriating, God’s creation. Hmmmm very interesting.
Moreover, another friend from another part of the country called me and took it a step further with an end-time / eschatological kinda question, “So Rev, you’re a man of God, do you think this virus will eventually wipe out all of humanity and God will start all over again?” and then another friend, who is a passionate military man and Christian, asked me point blank, as if he were about to rally the troops…”so who’s responsible for this? China? Or US?” I love the conversations, questions and speculations and have some of my own.
Some of these questions resemble the ones Jesus disciples, and Pharisees, presented him with in today’s Gospel passage from John 9:1 – 41, “who sinned, this (blind) man or his parents?” “Who healed you?” “Is this from God or not?”
We want answers. We need meaning in our lives. We’re getting a lot of explanations, but we desire understanding. With all the round-the-clock information we have at our disposal on how the virus behaves, and the daily number of casualties, it may take awhile to come up with an understanding and satisfactory responses.
My question is, when will we be able to touch each other again? We need compassionate, loving touches more than ever, at times like these. The blind man who now sees basically tells us, “ I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I do know this, I’ve been touched….and now I see.”