But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, a land that the LORD your God looks after. The eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.Deuteronomy 11:11-12
It may just be me, but I don’t find comfort in phrases like “this was all part of God’s plan,” or “God must have a reason to allow this to happen.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe the divine three are present and their hands play a part in our lives and in our world, but I reject the notion of a loving God that allows suffering, allows violence, permits oppression just so God can teach us a lesson. I find it more challenging and more meaningful that God is so loving, so gracious, that in the midst of those terrible tragedies that befall all of us, God is resilient in redeeming, saving, and nurturing us from despair and evil. God truly is the parent that can’t take away the pain or circumstances of their child, but promises to be a source of support and love if the child simply reaches out.
In our passage from Deuteronomy, the Israelites are traveling to the promised land. 2,500 years later we want to read this story and tell them God has got you, but they had to find that out for themselves. The land was new to them. Many were born wondering the wilderness, or under Egyptian domination. Some of them were not too sure about this new land, and were more unsure about the future. Yet in this passage they are reassured that God tends to this new future. God sees to it that all will be provided, just as God did back in Egypt. The pandemic continues. Politics remain divisive and toxic, especially for those most effected by public policy or lack thereof. We too may feel like these past two years have felt like 40 years wandering for a place to rest, but… what if… God is still speaking? The UCC sent all clergy a small book with “what if” questions that offer needed space to reflect on the movements of God for this moment. And so I offer these to you as a companion in prayer or meditation. Wonder. Imagine. Because really, what if?
What if… you remembered doing Communion at home, and approached all your meals as holy, as “little communions” maybe?
What if…you regularly gave the earth and yourself intentional time to breathe and rest?
What if… the time you spent worshiping in your bathrobes and sweats widened your former standards about how you show up to church?
What if… closing the physical doors of the church for a time and opening the digital ones actually brings more people to church, not fewer as some people feared?
What if… your longing for each other when you were apart revealed how much God misses you when you wander?
What if… the pain of your pandemic isolation transformed how you think about the pain of refugees, exiles, and immigrants?
What if… you could perceive in real time how God is making all things new?
Blessings for the journey,
Rev. Keith McDevitt