And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9, NLT).
Every morning and every evening, my dad faithfully sends out a prayer via text message. Admittedly, I sometimes read through a prayer quickly rather than truly offering it up to God as my own. Whenever I do take the time to meditate on the words of the prayer, to feel them in my spirit and devote them to God, I am reminded of how brightly his divine light shines. I will conclude this article with a prayer I have been returning to often.
Today we find ourselves in a situation largely unprecedented. We are transitioning from winter to spring, a movement usually characterized by lightness of spirit and an increase in sunlight. And while we have indeed been enjoying spring-like weather and plenty of sunshine lately, we are also in the midst of a moment in human history that is perhaps most accurately described as dark and intimidating. Some of us may be privileged and blessed enough that COVID-19 circumstances have not dramatically altered our standard of living. We may be working remotely, or working fewer hours, or spending more time with our children, but we still have shelter, food, and safe drinking water. We may experience tight finances for several months, but we are secure in the knowledge that we will weather this storm. For others, basic necessities and safety are not foregone conclusions. Before I say more about responding to this difficult situation, I want to ask boldly that for those of us who have the means, we consider supporting local organizations that are meeting immediate, desperate needs for our neighbors (including but not limited to food and childcare). If you have questions about how best to do this, United Way of Dane County is a good place to start -- there are opportunities to volunteer and donate -- and please feel free to get in touch with me directly.
I have already seen our church family caring for one another and empowering one another to care for others in our lives to the extent we are able to do so. We are working in good faith to respond to a situation that is constantly changing, operating within constraints that shift daily, sometimes hourly. We are striving to keep in mind the difference between reacting (repeating an action, carrying it forward by way of doing it over again) and responding (to answer or pledge again). Even though we find ourselves in dark, scary circumstances, we can follow the Light of Jesus’ love, pledging over and over again to act in radical compassion and care.
For me, this pledge is difficult to live out when my social interactions are limited to my immediate family for days on end. We test and push one another, and I am usually the first to lose patience and perspective. The more often I return to the Holy Spirit’s presence, meditating on how I am blessed to carry that presence into the world by caring well for myself and others in the midst of painful, messy circumstances, the more I am able rest securely in the present moment, trusting that God will reveal to me the specific paths to enact such care. Those revelations rarely come when or how I would prefer, and often they highlight paths that seem mundane, but they consistently come with perfect, divine timing, and without fail, they bring me closer to God and his ceaseless, radical, complete love for me.
Whether you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed today, thankful for the extra time you have to be in relationship with your family and neighbors, or somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, today I am praying for each of us that we cling to the eternal light of God’s heavenly Love. May God bless you through this prayer as I have been blessed.
It’s a good morning, Lord, because as on every morning, you’re here with your love. Thank you for another day of grace. Help me to walk in your paths. May I fully recognize and appreciate the love you have shown by laying down your life for me and by the way your guiding and protecting hands enfold me with your love. May my heart respond to your love by spreading your love in my little world today. Use me today to do your work here on earth and to put in a good word for you. Amen.