By my count, Covid has been exerting its psychological power over us for 10 months now and the most hopeful estimates predict another 6 months to go until vaccines begin to weave their immunity magic. I’ve found my mind struggling to imagine and to dream about how we move through the ministry space a year from now. Is anybody else experiencing this?
I wonder if one of the unexpected victims of a global pandemic is our ability to imagine and to dream for the future. Living in limbo robs us of so much. Somewhere in the future, I hope to draw us toward some thoughts about how the trauma of Covid should be making us more empathetic to the human struggle of refugeeism and displacement. But for today, I want to pen the following.
Last year, I preached a New Year’s sermon in Budapest on the first Sunday of the new decade of 2020. At that moment, a worldwide pandemic that closed us down and closed us off and changed us wasn’t even a blip on my radar. The points of that sermon were drawn from the Gospel of John, and they seemed very appropriate for all of the ‘new’ that lay before us. I ran across them today, and I found that I needed to hear them so much more today than I did then. Perhaps someone else needs to hear them today too.
God is present with us.
God is healing us and all of creation.
God is taking us somewhere.
God invites us to fill this place with the good of God.
Maybe that’s all you need to hear today. If so, go in the peace of knowing that you are not alone. God is present and active in our world. It’s safe to release your worries and fears into God’s capable hands.
If the ears of your heart are willing to hear more, then I offer you this. John’s ‘In the beginning’ purposefully carries us back to the very first, ‘In the beginning’ of Genesis, where we find the following.
Every millisecond of our human experience in infused with God fully invested and present with us. In Jesus, we have that tangible and fulfilled promise of God present with us. Can we hear the breaths of a Genesis God creating when we see the Spirit of God hovering over the body of a virgin? God’s very hand present and guiding in both ‘beginnings’ is so very powerful here. Still further, do we see how divinity intersecting humanity is realized in the birth of Jesus? Both in the creation of humanity and then in Divinity putting on the flesh of humanity, God is fully present with and fully invested in us. For me, this is so very, very powerful: there is not one millisecond of our entire human journey that is not held in the hadns of God. Not one. NT Wright takes our imagination further when he says that Genesis shows us how God makes earth to be God’s resting place; God’s place of presence. We see that in the words of John, ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.’ From the beginning of us through all of our eternity, God is present with us. We can exhale our fears, our insecurities, our disappointments into God.
From the first inhale of Adam and Eve’s sin, God is actively healing us and healing all of creation. God is renewing, not abandoning, not replacing. Jesus coming is the renewal of God’s in the beginning. God is healing us. God is not abandoning us. Let that sink deeply into your souls here in the middle of the pandemic.
God is taking us somewhere. If we move all the way to the end of our story, Revelation 21:3, we find God’s healed creation in Christ. God is taking us toward healing. May we be so bold in our faith that we might ask Christ to give us eyes to see how this global pandemic brings us closer to renewal. Remember, if John is to be believed, then God’s light is consistently and perfectly pushing back the darkness.
God invites us to fill the earth with the good of God. God blessed Adam and Eve, newly created, newly human and told them to be fruitful and to increase. God then told them to fill the earth, to subdue it and to rule over it. My good friend and pastor, Derrick Thames, highlighted that this ‘ruling over and subduing’ is the same way that a parent nourishes and guides her children. He then made the point that God’s invitation to us here in Genesis is to fill this place with the good of God. How insightful and how challenging that was for me at the beginning of 2020 and how prophetic for me here at the end of this year. Thank you, Derrick, for prophetically speaking truth into my life many months ago. In the year of the pandemic, when the light of hope seems dim, and the people are tired and frightened, what would it look like for the people of God to fill this earth with the good of God?
That is the creative imagination of God’s call upon our lives. May we fully live into our identity as the body of Christ – God enfleshed, God present, God healing. Now go in the power of the Holy Spirt and fill your corner of the world with the good of God for the glory of God.