“What are you doing here?”
— 1 Kings 19:13
Friends in Christ,
In every season scripture supports me. I don’t take it literally but we do discover truth there. Some of it is historical and proven beyond its binding, and plenty of it is not only poetic but powerful. It reveals things about humans and about God in history and hope.
Everybody knows the story of Noah’s Ark in scripture. How it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. But do you know how long the storm lasted end to end? Well, go read Genesis 6-8.
It’s complicated to determine just how long the storm lasts even when you examine the precise data. There are multiple descriptions. 40 days of rain, 40 days of flood, 150 days of waiting and even when the dove goes out after months there are two more seven day delays.
In the end it looks like it took one year, one month and twenty-seven days, or 422 days, when the initial implication was forty days. You can imagine where this is going for me at NHCC.
We don’t know how long the Covid storm will last. But consider one more storm along with Noah’s to see what happens after any storm in scripture. It’s the bit where Elijah is at the lip of a cave and he faces a cyclone, an earthquake and a fire. But God is not in them. And when they are done, when everything is still and small, God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?”
Our storm is not over and it may be closer in duration to the great flood than to the annual flu season. But it will end. And when it does we can learn from Noah and Elijah. Because during each storm and after each storm they both survived and flourished by listening to God’s ideas. Neither of them went back to exactly what they were doing before the storm; neither of them just cleaned up and ignored the experience. Each of them (like the Magi…) went home by another road.
Our Re-Covenant, Education, Confirmation, and Mission season begins during a storm. I believe we will make it through. And one ingredient will be using this time to discern what are we doing here, and what do we want to be doing here, as God asks us. The leadership of the Union of Reform Judaism just sent a letter to all the members of all the synagogues in America and amidst their advice it says, don’t compare this year to any other year. It’s different. But our people have been through storms and we will get through this one and I am striving for ways to answer God’s question to Elijah, and yearning for you to help me — help each other — with our covenant answer.
I can’t wait to see you, at least on zoom. I long to hear from you in any and every way. What I plan to do is love God and love my neighbor, just like always.
Peace to you,