Words that carry us
The last Michael’s Musings I sent out was in July. Since then, some of you thought you’d been dropped from the email list. But it’s not you. It’s me. My emotional and creative bandwidth was running low… maybe even running out. I felt it, even if I couldn’t admit it.
I was soul-tired. Perhaps you know the feeling. Perhaps you’re living the feeling. When I preached on Selah: Reclaiming Rest in August, I was preaching to me…
The last 18 months have been heavy for all of us, and heavy for each of us in different ways. Then the COVID surge returned. With it came more frustration, anger, division and grief over so much lost again. There is the loss of whatever “returned normalcy” we might have enjoyed for a hot minute, the loss of time and energy to quarantines, testing, and adjusting plans. There’s the loss of actual people we know and love. For me, there was the grief of cancelling a trip to Idaho to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary and introducing them to our youngest child. And then the tragic mourning of my grandmother’s death from COVID the day of her 60th wedding anniversary.
Layered on that is the devastation of storms, the decision-making of school systems and state legislatures, the tragedy of Afghanistan, the climate-exacerbated raging wildfires and water-scarcity in the West…
My soul is weary and my spirit is heavy.
I’m so grateful for the incredible sermon Patrick Messer preached on Sunday. If you missed it, please, give it a listen. You can find the audio podcast here (or wherever you get your podcasts) as you drive, do the dishes, or sit quietly. You can also watch it here (minute mark 28:35).
My soul needed the rest of that message, its beautiful honesty, the expansive vision of faith Lamentations offers, and the opportunity to find “defiant hope.”
I did get some real rest on vacation last week, which I deeply needed. Selah.
During that vacation, in two final conversations with my grandmother, when words were hard and fraught, I found comfort in the words of Jesus. In the gospels, Jesus teaches us by his own example to pray. But he doesn’t leave us there. He also teaches us how to pray. And then, as if knowing that sometimes prayer is just too much: he gives us words to pray. Words that I don’t ever recall sharing before with my grandmother. But in sharing them with her these words that have always carried God’s love for us now carry her love for me, and my love for her. These words also carry defiant hope and subtle depth. They carry theological beauty. And these words, when we don’t have words of our own… can carry us.
These are the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
I look forward, in this hard and exhausting season, to share worship with you Sunday on the “front lawn” (see below for details). I look forward to sharing again these ancient and ever-renewing words of prayer that can surprise us in their depth. Over the next few weeks we’ll walk slowly through these words, letting them carry us when needed, enriching our imaginations, inspiring our weary souls, and making us new.
See you Sunday,