By Pastor Manda
At the end of July it was time for the council to reconsider how we worship at CGS. With no surprise, we voted to continue worshipping online only through the end of September. With infection rates and deaths still rising at the end of July, it was obvious that gathering groups to worship in the sanctuary would only increase the risk of exposure to the people of our community and anyone they come in contact with. I know that this is not a surprise to you, but really a fear realized, a disheartening confirmation.
In this time without in-person, communal worship I have been looking to the mystics our spiritual ancestors who had personal revelations from Christ. I’ve been looking to their lives for how to make it through this season of forced fasting from the kind of community I have come to love and rely on for my own mental health.
One of my favorite mystics is Julian of Norwich, England. She lived most of her life in seclusion in the middle of the city. During that time the city experienced pandemics, peasant revolts, and economic swings. She herself was so ill at one point that she was convinced she was dying. In this time, she had many revelations. When she recovered from her illness, she wrote about her revelations and that text was the first English book written by a woman.
Her revelations are fascinating for what we are experiencing. They are the kinds of epiphanies which I believe are only had once we are forced to abandon all our distractions and justifications and come face to face with God as our truest selves. In her last revelation, she reflects back that we humans have two sicknesses: impatience, and fear.
Yeah. Here in the middle of our own pandemic I see impatience and fear. Julian posited that there were four kinds of fear: fright, fear of pain, doubt, and reverence. Each kind of fear stems from its own place – our frailty, our own shortcomings or failure, our perceptions of the outside world beyond our control, our despair.
But the hopeful thing that Julian finds in her revelations is that this impatience and all this fear also can drive us toward God. Our inability to control the world around us or even our own actions, eventually trips us up and makes us fall on our knees at the foot of the cross. There is Christ. He’s always been there, where our fears and impatience bring us.
I’m grateful to be taking this month of Sabbath. A long road trip into the backcountry of these western united states will bring me a different kind of isolation than I’ve experienced these past 5 months. I hope to use this time to shed my own impatience and fears so that I might find the foot of the cross, and Christ. I know he’s still there. And maybe if I can refocus on Christ, I can find some peace as we continue to wait for that day when we can all be together again.
Christ the Good Shepherd
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