Lenten blog | March 19, 2020
First day of Spring
Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for Thursday, March 19th: 1 Samuel 15:10-21; Psalm 23; and Ephesians 4:25-32. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
One of the members of our church shared a photo of a lone, purple crocus popping up through the dry grass around our church, a church snowed upon today. It was a much appreciated sign of hope amidst all of the bad news born of the pandemic. It is also apropos because today at 11:50pm it is Spring! The Vernal Equinox. One of two days each year when the sun shines for twelve hours at the equator, leaving equal amounts of day and night, thus Equinox, “equal night.” This is a rather special Vernal Equinox too. It hasn’t arrived this early on the calendar since 1896, 124 years ago. I don’t know if it will make a difference, but I’m hoping that warmer and longer days may lessen the angst and isolation of this pandemic.
What I do know will help is what we do for one another. This is the gist of what the Ephesians passage shares with us today. Christians are expected to act for the good of the whole, for that is holy. As it is written: “For we are members of one another.” The image of the body conveys our mutual interdependence. When any member of the body suffers, the entire body suffers. A microscopic virus finds its way into our body and before you know it the entire body is in distress. In the same way, we are all interconnected, and as Christians we are all called upon to support the whole not only ourselves.
I read a newspaper report that ammunition sales are skyrocketing. Some are worried that the pandemic will lead to social unrest. Rather than appreciate the lesson of mutual support, there are some who think it wiser to fight it out. If we turn on one another, then the virus will be a small part of a much greater affliction.
Instead, let us as people of faith work together. The best way to deal with this crisis is not to add on another layer of crisis. It is to be there for each other – “For we are members of one another.” A central Lenten theme is Jesus’ compassion. He went to the cross rather than abandon in the slightest His gospel of love and peace. He accepted the violence done to Him rather than choosing violence Himself. He gave Himself as His final, perfect testimony that mutual compassion is our only road to salvation.
In un-ordinary times, we must pay unusual attention to keeping and practicing our faith. When the normal routines don’t play out, our regular practice of the faith can’t play out normally either. We have to be more proactive and aware. We need to make the extra effort to think not only of ourselves, but of others.
This is as much a sign of hope as is that lone crocus of Spring’s first day.
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