Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
There is a ninth century prayer that laments, “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?”, to which the reply can be made from Psalm 124:8 “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
At this late point in the season of Lent, I find myself in the space between these two sentiments. I am reflecting on the death of a friend from a congregation I served previously, and I am aware of a few of you who are at the sides of those who you love who are dying or in uncertain health. The politicians have moved on from decrying the ways that President Obama was going to destroy the country (if he’s going to, he better hurry up as he only has a few months left), to portraying all of the awful things that are bound to happen if each of the candidates running get elected. Locally, conversations about climate change and ecology have moved from speaking about global destruction to the very concrete reality of what happens to our communities if our farmers cannot rely upon irrigation water as they have for the past 60 years. “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?”
We are fast approaching the time in the year when we specifically memorialize Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a time to remember that in the midst of life we are in death, and that God has walked and sill walks this journey with us. We may want to let the sorrows and fears of this world overtake us. But while we need to acknowledge the very real issues that face us, we need to hear that we are not alone. We need to hear that there is help to be found. We are surrounded by signs of God’s love and presence, the one who formed heaven and earth. We are given each other to hold on to, to share our experiences, to offer love and forgiveness and to receive it in return. We have our neighbors, be they friend or stranger, to be the presence of God. We recall Jesus who endured death and was resurrected into new life.
I encourage you to delve deep into our holy week worship experiences, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Prayer Vigil, and Easter Sunday. Let us confront the places of death in our world so that we may experience the joy of Easter and deeply know the many ways that our help comes from the Lord.
Peace and hope to you in the risen Christ,
Pastor Dan Benson