Volume 34, No. 7
Who Are We in the Midst of a Crisis?
It’s been a rough Lent. Not only has our world and our way of meeting together as a people of God been flipped on its head, but I have decided to stick with the sermon series of “Traveling Light” as we seek to give up the spiritual and emotional baggage that is weighing us down. This has been one of the most difficult and frustrating themes on which I’ve ever preached. I think it’s because I’m preaching to myself as I ask us to let go of things like guilt, control, contempt, busyness, and certainty. I grip those things tightly thinking that they give my life purpose and define who I am. I find myself wondering if I continue to carry this baggage maybe everything will be ok.
Yet, a crisis is only a sneeze away. Today I find myself wiping down my groceries, packages, and mail. I’m washing my hands every ten minutes. I am trying to do my caregiving job in a social distancing world. I have a spouse who is in the midst of a complicated pregnancy. I am trying to keep the kids fed, entertained, and learning while feeling guilty for not doing anything to care for myself. My life, our lives, are in crisis.
Who are we in the midst of a crisis? Who do we want to be in the midst of a crisis? Do we want to be the people that hold tightly to our stuff? Are we people who grip more firmly to the securities of life in order to bring some sort of control to the chaos? I know I do… and my grip is weakening, my body is tired, and my soul is weary. I know we are all overwhelmed and exhausted. Maybe the only thing we can do in this uncertain time is to lean into a God who says we will never be alone and that our heavy burdens will be taken from us so we can indeed rest.
And that’s my prayer for each and every one of you… for rest. I pray that all of us might feel vibrant air in our lungs and breath in our spirits as we release our grip on the things we can’t control and relax into the promises of God.
My uncertain and anxious friends, here is a prayer for you by Henri Nouwen:
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.”
 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life