God’s glory in this unprecedented spring

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

— Pslam 19: 1-6 (NRSV)

I'm not proud to say this, but I got my first little bit of sunburn for the year this last week. It was definitely time to mow the parsonage lawn, and I had been waiting a few days for the weather to cooperate. Finally, I had some time on a sunny, warm afternoon, and I relished every moment of being outside. The birds were singing and flying from the tree branches to the feeders and back. The buds on the bushes and limbs were shining a bright yellow-green in the sunshine. The neighbor's daffodils and tulips were basking in the warmth. Every beautiful sign of spring for which we've been waiting all winter long was signing praises to God loudly without words. It felt like a holy moment when the troubles of the world, at least for a time, were hushed. Even the sunburn felt warm and right as I fell asleep that night.

Our lives have been profoundly disrupted in so many ways these last few weeks because of the precautions were following to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I am certainly not complaining thought. I would never wish to unwittingly endanger the life of another by not following the proper protocols that have been established for us. I truly see this as an act of loving our neighbors as ourselves as Christ commanded us. But, that doesn't mean that it's easy for you or for me.

I think that's partly why being outside to do something as "normal" as mowing the lawn felt to good last week. For two hours it was just me, the task at hand, and the blessed signs of spring that surrounded me. Still, our family of faith was also ver present in my bind. I thought about my sermon for the upcoming Sunday. I thought about confirmation class on Wednesday. I thought about the milestone ministries of baptisms, first Communion, and senior recognition that have already, or may need to be postponed this spring. I prayed for the family of Karen Borton who continues to wait to hold her funeral service. I recalled conversations over the last few weeks with members and friend of the congregation while walking the dog or pushing Jonathan in his stroller. I thought of phone calls and emails that I have made and received to stay connected with others. And, I thought about a shopping list to make sure Emily and I only had to make one trip to the store that week. In the midst of spending time in God's creation on such a beautiful day, I couldn't help but think of many different things, both wonderful as well as challenging. I also couldn't help but be thankful. I'm thankful for my family and our ALC family of faith. I'm thankful for the love and support God has given us to share with others. I'm thankful that it's another spring season that we can enjoy together, even if it has a different feel to it.

April was a very difficult and unprecedented month. I am grieved that we were not able to be together in person for worship during Holy Week or Easter. I hope to never have to experience that again. And yet, in the midst of these difficult times, the good news of the resurrection to new life in Christ was proclaimed nonetheless. This good news didn't depend on us being gathered in a sanctuary, just as the angel's good news that first Easter didn't depend on a crowd gathered at the already empty tomb. Later, when Jesus appeared before others it was to small gatherings of people who were wrestling with grief, fear, and doubt. For me, witnessing the resurrected Christ this Easter from home may have been the most authentic Easter I have experienced in my life. The good news of His resurrection broke through the grief I felt that day of not being together in worship. Still, it was not easy. I'm sure it wasn't easy for you either. Christ knows that, and He was there with you behind closed doors just as He was with His first disciples that blessed Easter. I take great comfort in knowing that to be true.

We continue our journey through this difficult time together day-by-day. I truly cannot wait to be together again for worship when it is safe and appropriate to do so. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves, your friends and loved ones, and all brothers and sisters in Christ that God has put into your lives. And, if you're able, be sure to enjoy some time outside during these glorious spring days (and don't forget sunscreen!).

I miss you, I hope all is well, and God bless.

Pastor Nathan