Lest we Forget   5 comments

I know I have not written for some while and maybe what follows goes some way to explaining why. As Maggie has been working with her 6th grade students in preparation for returning to some form of in-person teaching, she has been encouraging them to write down their experiences of the past year to make sure they do not forget. As I sat in quiet this morning with my journal open I thought that maybe I should do the same. This is what resulted: 

I remember that the initial shock of beginning “shelter in place” was in some ways exciting. We launched into new and previously unknown territory with problems to solve and strategies to develop. For our church, our previously limited online presence became the main event. We worked as a team praying, thinking and planning. We learned from our mistakes and were all engaged in the challenges of helping one another. How could we respond to the needs of our community and maintain some connectivity? We learned to do church in a different way and asked ourselves what is God doing, what can we learn? Personally I began to appreciate the focus that came with working at home. I really enjoyed being with Maggie everyday as she grappled with the challenges of online teaching. 

Soon it became clear that the end of these strange times was not coming anytime soon. Phrases like “the new normal” appeared in articles and news bulletins along with “unprecedented.” and “unheard of!” At the same time as the appearance of this new language, cracks began to become evident in relationships. The inability to see each other face to face allowed those cracks to widen as differences of opinion and ideas emerged. Echo chambers formed as we found ways to talk with people that agreed with us and avoid those with whom we differed.

Little did we know that just ahead of us were two events that would again make significant changes to our cultural and social landscape. On May 25th the news of the tragic killing of George Floyd flooded the news outlets. Over the next weeks this brought to the surface fresh and necessary attention to the racism that infects our nation. However, rather than causing us to come together in the face of injustice it simply provided another forum for differences in life experiences, let alone opinions and perspectives. The cracks multiplied and became wider as the rhetoric in social media became louder and more combative.Then of course on the horizon, approaching rapidly, was the perfect storm of an election in a nation already as politically divided as at any time in recent history

As the year progressed, divisions and isolation increased. Along with them, some underlying questions seemed to become more and more prevalent “What about me?” Why is nobody listening to me?” We continued to search for people who think like us, so we can feel safe. But all the time culture and community became more and more divided, and as a consequence significantly more unsafe for everyone!

Now, as we approach the prospect of a much wider re-opening, we must face a new challenge. How will we deal with the bridges that have been broken and the cracks that have become so wide? Will we, like Adam and Eve at the dawn of creation, look around for someone to blame and hence simply reinforce the brokenness we are all experiencing.

Oh the other hand could we take a different and admittedly more difficult approach. Could we grasp humility in both hands, emerge from our echo chambers, and take the initiative to say sorry for the part we have played in divisions. Might we, in turn, forgive those who we believe have wronged and hurt us. As a consequence could we participate in the active healing of our community?

I know for me right now, I am tired and discouraged. I am struggling to find the excitement and anticipation of planning again for what will be new. I am realizing that soon I will be at home alone without Maggie in the other room (except of course I will have Maisey, our four month old boxer puppy!) I am recognizing the relationships with many that I valued and love are deeply changed. Can I find the energy to think, write, inspire and anticipate all that God is going to do?

I believe the answer, for me at least, is yes. I know that God is still on the throne, He still has a plan and He is still working it out. I believe that although it will be extraordinarily difficult at times, if I can humble myself, we can do this together. We can learn to love each other, while listening to and seeking to understand our differences. If we accept this challenge when the next crisis occurs, and it will, we will be better equipped and stronger to face it together and show the world what it really means to follow Jesus.

5 responses to “Lest we Forget

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  1. Jonathan, your blog states the obvious for many of us who have and are dealing with changes that occurred 365 days ago. Some things never change, like our God who stays with us who fear Him. Sitting up here on the coastal bluffs, fresh ocean breeze on my face, listening to the symphony of the crashing waves, the cries of seagulls and Ravens mixed with the barking of mother sea lions as the pupping season announces the start of Spring. Sadly, though the harshness of Fall and Winter have come and gone, the half million plus souls that Covid-19 took have left sadness and grief for so many. Yes, black lives do matter as do all other lives matter. Some of us are exhausted from the changes that made prisoners of us while the government closed everything, including houses of worship. Civil unrest, protests, food and toiletries shortages became the new normal. Zoom was ripped off from the comic books and we all became computer nerds, like it or not. What remains was always there; faith, hope and love. We survive because He lives. 🙏🏼

  2. Thank you Jonathan for hanging in there for all in New Life.
    Herculean strength won’t be enough but abiding in the Vine and His Word and Calling gives you the strength to carry on. We all prayed much with you, for you and with trepidation we now cast our eyes to the Lord alone.
    I read yesterday in “The Call” that when abiding in Him, we must take our eyes off ourselves and our limitations. Then He will cause the fruitfulness. It spoke to me and it gave me the rest I so needed in this season. I pray this will encouraged you

  3. You could always meet with an old friend who has not forgotten you. 🤔

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