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July 5th, 2020

Today’s reflection is a guided meditation to help us articulate some of the losses of this pandemic time, and to be intentional and deliberate in bringing our losses to Jesus, our Christ, as we come to sit at the table with Him. 

Jesus offers us the bread of life, and so as we name our loss we also name the strength and the nourishment we need from him as our Living Word and Friend and trust that He is with us and will fill and sustain us. No one has been untouched by loss during these past few months of living during the Covid-19 pandemic.  I can remember sitting in a staff meeting – it must have been near the end of April – and we were beginning to talk about plans for summer worship and for the fall, and I became paralyzed.  I didn’t want to talk – I couldn’t face the possibility that we would still be under restrictions in summer and fall.  As I look back, I can see that loss was weighing on me. 

We had lost school, programs, and childcare for our kids.  My husband had lost his employment.  We had lost our routines.  I had lost a sense of normal and usual when it came to working in a church.  We had lost things we’d come to rely on – the ability to dash out to the store for milk without facing a distanced line-up outside the store.  We were beginning to lose people.  We’d found things too – a new togetherness, yes, gratitude. 

But we had all been forced into a situation that none of us would have chosen for ourselves.  I think I was paralyzed by all of that change and loss and it came to head in that staff meeting.  I couldn’t think ahead, couldn’t speak to the moment.  We limit grief when we apply it only to mourning after a death of someone close to us.  In fact, loss is a part of all of our lives.  It doesn’t feel good to sit with loss, but acknowledging loss and talking about it is how we start to heal.  Feeling what we feel, noticing it, not pushing it away – this is how grief and loss move us through to peace, calm, acceptance, and perspective – to healing. Barbara Brown Taylor has said, “It is the inability to bear [heavy] emotions that causes many of our most significant problems, and not the emotions themselves.”  She continues, “I learned that sadness does not sink a person; it is the energy a person spends trying to avoid sadness that does that.” The Psalms are our teachers here.  The people who wrote the psalms understood that speaking and naming their specific grief and loss – speaking about it in prayer to God – was a means of processing, understanding, and healing.  Speaking and naming their loss allowed them to celebrate God’s presence, as they noticed how they had been strengthened and accompanied in hard times. 

I am going to lift up some of the phrases from the Psalm we heard this morning.  As I do so I invite you to write down what comes to your mind.  I will be inviting anyone who is willing to share some of what has come to them to unmute and speak. 

Hearing others, we gain insight into ourselves.  So we begin by sitting with this line: “From the depths of my being I call to You, for my heart is faint.”  What has made or is making your heart faint in this Covid time?  We’ll take two minutes of silence.  

Another line from our Psalm: “Lead me to the Rock that is my strength.”  As you contemplate your particular loss – that which has made your heart faint – what particular strength do you need?  What rock we bring you stability?  We’ll take another minute of silence.  

“As I walk on your path forever You fill me with abiding love, gentle joy, deep peace, and wisdom.”  What virtues have you noticed have been present in you during this time?