To the Church in Exile,
The peace of Christ be with you. Our daily lectionary reading is Psalm 126:
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
I wrote about the real starkness of death two days ago as I was commenting on the funeral scene at Jacob’s death complete with 70 days of regal mourning. There is something to be said for naming and dwelling in the pit. The Bible never flinches from death and darkness. We often rush to avoidance. I remember an old film from some 20 years ago called Kingdom Come where, during a huge family gathering, a young couple were still recovering from their second miscarriage. In this poignant scene, as his wife is rapidly reviewing her list of check boxes to get pregnant again, trying so hard to turn the page, the husband turns to her and says, “Honey, just let it be broken for a while.” We cannot be those who escape this month. We’re a Lent tribe, a Good Friday people.
Still, I resonate with this psalm – When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Can we be open, even now, unlocking our imaginations to catch a glimpse, just a glimmer of light and be those who dream?
I’m already beginning to dream of those 9-year-old Seattle school children who will become brilliant epidemiologists because of seeds sown right now. I’m envisioning how today’s horror will be the soil for the future enculturation of exceptional and courageous public health officials, nurses, and first responders. If we let God catch our imaginations when it’s dark, just like God did with Mary and Joseph, and prophets of old, can we not begin to picture the creative forces of God’s Reign already at work in industry, medicine, education, the arts and theology. What dream is the Lord giving you?
So, let’s be the Good Friday people who dream. Our city needs us. You can already hear the Seattle sounds of despair, the invading footsteps of fear of others, and the song of “me first.” But as we begin another day caged in our homes, just as worried about family health, work and finances as everyone else, we can still think into our story and dream.
Live in Lent friends. Go to the cross. We have a friend there who dreamed of nothing else but the Reign of God. We can do the same.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
God of tomorrow, God of the present, stay with us in these weeks of weeping and sow your seeds of life. Take not our tears away, but enter into them that as we grieve, we may remember how to dream. Make us the Lenten people whose mouths will be filled with laughter and whose tongues will shout for joy. In the name of our Jesus who died and is risen. Amen.
Peace in Christ,
Doug Kelly, Senior Pastor
Bethany Presbyterian Church
(206) 284-2222, x11