I survived my 1,400+ mile three-day sojourn to Urbana, Illinois, where my son and I packed and moved my daughter’s belongings to various storage places. I left before 5:00am on Saturday morning after a not-very-good night’s rest. You know that routine: you really, really need to get to sleep…and you spend the night counting sheep! When that happens, I fear not being able to drive safely the next day. I asked God to bless my trip, and God did! Up I got and out I went, picking up my son in Richmond, Indiana. More than twenty-four hours on the road over three days and not even one moment of driver drowsiness!!
I had some sad moments as I spent masked and socially-distanced time with family whom I hadn’t seen in a long while. The way of the world right now. My flowers did not get to dance with me as I whizzed by on I-70, a good twenty miles north of my homestead. The whole experience gave me just a small taste of what other families and loved ones are enduring. My family and I are all well and well-cared-for, even if we needed to keep our distance. Not true for a lot of folks these days. O Lord, how long?!? I seem to be quoting those words from the Psalmist a lot more than normal these days.
In the meantime, I am back at work in Rochester. One by one, my staff colleagues are managing to find time to get away for vacation, such as they are this summer. When at work, we keep staring at each other, mostly on our screens, imagining what else we can and should do to keep the good news flowing among Third Church members. Just when we think up a good plan of action, we realize how challenging it is to get all the ducks to line up. We can no longer assume ANYTHING, it seems. For example, we have announced that, as of August 1, larger gatherings can be had around the church facility. As we consider the details, we come to terms with the bumps and hurdles that occur along the way. So…even though we are permitting gatherings, how to make them happen is fraught with issues. Our #1 concern remains the health and well-being of the staff and members of Third Church. It’s complicated!!
I am focusing this week’s sermon on Romans 8:28: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. I regularly have what I call Romans 8:28 moments. The challenge comes when one treats that truth as if it can be understood simply, which is usually not the case. Time often needs to pass and much mental energy must be invested in the process.
I am forcing myself to think this week about the good that is working itself out in our lives these days. I see and can name some of it, a portion of which even amazes me to the core of my being. But I will admit that I am losing even more hair because of the head-scratching that I am doing. Covid-19 is not good, but it is not a curse that God or “the lubberals” or the Chinese have called down on us. It is a majorly crappy natural occurrence that is sickening and killing millions. Could we have handled it differently? You bet; although New Yorkers should be proud of themselves! Still, in, of, and by itself, no good resides in the virus. AND…the day will come when we look backward and grimace gratefully that this or that good thing worked its way out of the rotten wood of this present moment. I don’t dare predict what it will be, but I keep living in and with that hope in my heart.
The Rev. Conley A. Zomermaand, PhD
(618) 606-1053—after office hours; emergencies