Friday, 20 March, 2020

Scripture (click): Job 29:1-6

(From Rev. Tanya):
My sister has worked in the corporate offices of a major department store for nearly three decades. It was just announced that they will be shuttering all of their doors nationwide until at least 1 April. This past week, 26 of the 28 people on her team were let go; she’s left with the complex reality of being one of two “survivors”. I texted her to let her know I was praying for her, and for everyone up and down the pain-filled chain of relationships in that company. The last line of her reply was: “Thanks for the note and prayers…there aren’t enough going up right now.” I’m not entirely sure what she meant by that, but the anguish in it is unmistakable.

These are disastrous times, globally. And yet, as has been the case in every human crisis across history, God is right here with us in the thick of it.  Frederick Buechner wrote the following reflection some years ago:

ON THE EVENING OF THE DAY the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists, a service was hastily improvised in one of the largest New York churches, where crowds of both believers and nonbelievers came together in search of whatever it is people search for at such times—some word of reassurance, some glimmer of hope.

“At times like these,” the speaker said, “God is useless.”

When I first heard of it, it struck me as appalling, and then it struck me as very brave, and finally it struck me as true.

When horrors happen, we can’t use God to make them unhappen any more than we can use a flood of light to put out a fire or Psalm 23 to find our way home in the dark.

All we can do is to draw close to God and to each other as best we can, the way those stunned New Yorkers did, and to hope that, although God may well be useless when all hell breaks loose, there is nothing that happens, not even hell, where God is not present with us and for us. 

~ Originally published in Beyond Words, by Frederick Buechner (emphasis mine — rev. tanya)

Music: Amy Grant, (click): “God Is With Us”  
This song & video will make many think of Advent during this Lenten season. But it’s helpful to be reminded of the theological message of incarnation when so many are struggling so mightily with the challenge of being human just now: God chose to become one of us, so we might better understand inalienable divine love and presence. Look for it in one another. Be Christ to every person you encounter; God knows everyone, even our own sheltering-in-place family members, needs such a blessing.

Prayer:
Ever-present God to every generation, help us to feel your presence closely abiding with us here and now. May your peace and comfort be especially present with those whose jobs are becoming casualties of this global crisis. As we learn new ways of being with each other and for each other, help us to be more aware that you are always present with us and for us. Amen.

© 2020 The Congregational Church of Hollis, UCC