This September our sermon theme is wilderness. As we start the fall our world
continues to be in a time of partial shut-down as we approach another season
with COVID 19. As September dawns we have our fingers crossed hoping that this
school year begins uneventfully and the new protocols for Monomoy Schools will
keep all our kids safe. But it is not the Fall we expected is it? It is not like any
school year we can remember.
Back in March when the World Health Organization announced a pandemic and
the Commonwealth announced guidelines for social distancing and we all hoped
things would be back to normal in several months. But the finish line keeps
moving, evaporating. The spring stretched into the summer and now the summer
is leaning into the fall with no concrete end in sight. While there are reasonably
optimistic projections for vaccine trials, ideas about how it will be distributed are
all over the map.
This September our sermon series is entitled “Wilderness: Finding our Way
without a Map.” The wilderness times in the Bible and in our own lives are times
when people found themselves thrust into new territory. They are times when it
feels like you don’t have a map and you are lost. But the Bible also teaches us that
the wilderness times are also times of growth. Though we may feel lost, God finds
us, and often God leads us.
The measure of people has always been how they respond when they are tested
and there are many signs of hope here, that I see. While this is an uncertain time
there are plenty of examples of selflessness, decency and goodness in this church
and in the wider community. I feel blessed to see these qualities in so many of
Two days ago I visited a woman who felt called to make a substantial gift to the
Online Ministry upgrade. She told me she hadn’t planned to but felt led to this
decision through her prayer life. Then I visited with a family with someone in
hospice care. The house was sad but a generous spirit engulfed their home.
Yesterday afternoon, I met on the church lawn with a couple planning a
September wedding. Wedding plans, over a year in the making, have been
trimmed and changed many times so now we expect a beach ceremony with a
small reception in the rented house where Marion Marsh lived for decades. I met
with them in the Memorial Garden, seated on benches, safely six feet apart. The
sun was exuberant and the breeze perfect that afternoon. This couple was excited
to be planning their big day as we sat, surrounded by so many Pilgrims who had
gone before, yet looking forward with hope to the new family these two were so
eager to start.
This wilderness experience has tested us but not defeated us. It has tried our
patience but not compromised our humanity. It has brought us to our knees but
not eliminated our creative spirit. Though we have no map for this we continue to
journey on, striving to live with grace, good humor and hope. Even the wilderness
spaces in life cannot take those things away unless we give up on ourselves. I see
people all around who are not defeated even in hard moments made more
complex by the pandemic. I see people who are resilient and courageous and kind
through it all.
God’s strength be with you when you need it. May the real hope of faith continue
to guide you.