Column for Trinity’s September Epistle/Newsletter
Dear Friends in Christ,
I suppose there is some danger in comparing our times to eras in sacred scripture because no metaphor or comparison is perfect. Still, knowing that people of faith have together gone through trials before gives me comfort and hope. Our Sunday morning scripture passages from the Old Testament will come from Exodus this later summer and fall. This is the story of God liberating the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and then teaching them in the wilderness to be a community of faith. Everything they learned in the Wilderness School, so named by Dan Erlander, is how they survived their next exile in Babylon, many generations later. During the Babylonian Exile they had the Ten Commandments, the story of God delivering them through the sea, rituals reminding them of God’s faithfulness. The prophet Jeremiah wrote the exiles a letter with instructions for their time of disorientation. He wrote, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare…Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you.”
In other words, settle in folks. Do all the faithful stuff God has taught you—care for the neighbor, pray for your new setting and situation, remember all the things your ancestors were taught in the Wilderness School, remember that God is a God who is faithful to God’s promises, and when other prophets come along, be wary. We, living in 21st century southwest Idaho, are living with a great deal of uncertainty. We do not know how we will get to the other side of the pandemic. We do not know precisely what church will look like when we return to the new normal. We do not know how the presidential election will turn out or how people will respond to the results. And most of us do not have much control over any of those unknowns. We do know how to love our neighbor. We do know that we need one another’s companionship. We do know that God always shows preferential treatment for those marginalized by society. We do know that God is faithful and is with us, even when God seems so very far away. That is quite a lot. I am personally so very grateful to be experiencing this strange time with our community of faith. Thanks for being my companions.