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Today’s Reflection – Walking by Faith

November 23, 2020
Birch cabin ruins at Knoll-Willows Open Space in Estes Park, Colorado

Today as Denise and I said Morning Prayer together (we use Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer), Thomas Merton’s prayer was one of the readings for today. The prayer is also found in Merton’s book, Thoughts in Solitude (p. 79)

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton has been speaking to me quite a bit lately through this prayer and his other writings. This is especially true as your Padre navigates the COVID-19 reality with his congregation. We as a community of faith must balance our desire for in-person worship/fellowship and the realities/dangers that such gatherings will create. Trusting in God to guide me as I seek to lead God’s children here in this place and far beyond isn’t always easy. Conflicting desires on the part of individuals and communities can be challenging. Therefore will I trust You always, thought I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.

These concerns and realities are much greater than me. In addition to the millions of people that I don’t know, these concerns impact so many whom I love. A colleague and dear friend will be officiating at a funeral today for a parishioner who died from COVID-19. A friend of ours has had COVID and is now dealing with multiple serious health issues as a result of the virus. Please pray with me and with all of our sisters and brothers who continue to deal with the destruction this Pandemic is causing.

Today I received the weekly update from the assisted living and memory care facility where my Dad lives. The residents, along with their family members and designated representatives, have been asked not to gather together for Thanksgiving. If a resident does choose to go to a holiday gathering outside of the facility, they will need to quarantine for fourteen days following their return. Yes, this holiday season will be very different from years past.

Carrollton Presbyterian Church (CPC), where I am serving, is working on plans for a Virtual Christmas Eve service that will be shared on our Website. Originally the church had hoped to be back in-person for Advent with a 25 person cap (including the pastor and musicians) on attendance. That all changed with the news that COVID-19 results are heading in the wrong direction in Carroll County and Georgia as they are in the rest of the country and world.

Merton’s prayer represents for me the reality of navigating the 2020 pandemic. This season in the life of the church, community, state, nation, and world is not going to end anytime soon. We must be in this fight together for the long-haul or else the waves will continue to crash and we will continue to have people die or have irreparable damage done to their bodies and spirits after they get sick from the virus.

A blogger and speaker that I follow (Jeff Chu has developed a church-related designation for each day of the Pandemic. Today, November 23rd is the 173rd Day after Coronatide. This seasonal name is a play on words with the original “tide” being Christmastide (time between Christmas Eve and Epiphany) or Yuletide. In 2020 it somehow seems appropriate to name the unknown season in such a manner.

As I reflect on the decision the church leaders and I made on March 14th to discontinue in-person worship and meetings at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies (PCCR), I am once again reminded that we had no idea how long we would be in this time of pandemic. As the days turned into weeks and then months the reality hit me and hit the majority of the congregation. This pandemic wasn’t going to end quickly. Initial thoughts about being back in the sanctuary for Pentecost were quickly tossed aside. So Coronatide continues today with no end in sight.

While the pandemic has turned our world upside down, I believe that we are called to make a choice. Mourning or lamenting what has been lost is perfectly appropriate. In the midst of that I urge you dear reader to remember the advice found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Verses one and four are quite timely as we walk this unknown road together. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; and a time to dance.

Right now, we are in the season of COVID-19 (Coronatide). While we don’t know when it will happen, I believe that we will emerge from this pandemic like the nation emerged from the 1919-1920 Spanish Flu Pandemic. In the meantime, our faith communities are being challenged to live out the Christmas promise of hope, love, joy, and peace in new and innovative ways. May we be guided by the Spirit as she leads us by the right road.

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Anniegoose's Blog and commented:
    Keep the Faith!

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