Anne Lamott’s book, Traveling Mercies, remains among my favorite spiritual memoirs. As she is prone to do, she tells a story with rough edges and language inappropriate for the pulpit but also theological truth.
A man was telling a friend (actually a bartender) in Alaska, how he had lost whatever faith he’d had after his twin-engine plane crashed in the tundra.
“Yeah,” he says bitterly, “I lay there in the wreckage, hour after hour, nearly frozen to death, crying out to God to save me, praying for help with every ounce of my being, but God didn’t raise a finger to help. So I’m done with that whole charade.”
“But,” says the friend, “You’re here. You were saved.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said the man, “because finally [some] Eskimos came along” (p. 117).
It would be more funny if it weren’t so true. It’s often hard to recognize God’s hand amidst hardship, to see the divine in the context of difficulty. Yet, hard at it is, it’s also important.
As we return to in-person worship this week, we’ll explore this passage in which God’s people are invited to see God amidst a feeling of exile and to trust that God – regardless of appearance – is active and alive in their circumstances.
It’s not easy, but it’s often how God comes to us: subtly, in acts of human kindness and generosity, in acts of justice and political courage, in acts of selfless sacrifice. That is how God comes: when men and women live out the particular qualities of faith in a world often slow to recognize the divine in our midst.
I’m thrilled that we’ll return to in-person worship this Sunday. Just as a reminder, let me reiterate what you already know: masks will be required inside (mostly for the protection of un-inoculated children), worship leaders have all provided proof of vaccination and will be un-masked. We’ll spread out, refrain from handshakes and hugs, have plenty of room for all, and BE VERY GRATEFUL TO WORSHIP TOGETHER.
I hope to see you at 9:30 or 11:00. Come, and bring a friend.