What a challenging time we are living in… We went from the joy and celebration of Shrove Tuesday, eating pancakes and fellowshipping together, to relying on technology for everything from simple check-ins to online worship. From playing in the park in the early spring sun to keeping at least 6 feet of distance between one another. Our whole realities, our day to day, have changed quite rapidly. I don’t know about you, but that has been anxiety and fear inducing for me. What does tomorrow hold? When will we be able to hug one another’s neck again? Or be that shoulder to cry on? When will we be able to celebrate weddings and graduations? There are so many questions and so few answers, and that can be scary.
But fear doesn’t have to control our day to day. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran pastor and theologian, recently posted a video in which she explored what she believes the opposite of fear to be. She posits that the opposite of fear is not bravery, like many might think; but rather, it is love. What does living in love, rather than living in fear, mean to you? What does it mean to the five-year-old who is home from kindergarten and doesn’t understand why? What does living in love, rather than fear, mean to the teachers creating lesson plans for online and distance learning? What does living in love, rather than fear, mean for those working in healthcare professions right now? Might life look quite different if we process that fear is an ok and right feeling to have right now? We don’t have to be brave. We aren’t called to be brave.
We are called to love God and love our neighbor. There are so many unknowns, and I hate to admit it, but there will continue to be so many unknowns for a while. But one thing we do know, is that we are created and cared for by a loving God, a God of knowns and unknowns. We are called, as children, adults, teachers, caretakers, parents, grandparents, friends, and family, to love one another. Distance might cause that love to look a little bit different, but as a faith community we are called to creatively navigate this space that we all might feel God’s love and comfort during this time of unknown.
Sometimes love looks like empty school hallways, empty church pews, empty college campuses, and empty restaurants. It looks like taking precautions, out of love not fear. It looks like resisting the temptation to operate business as usual, because business as usual can put people we love in danger right now. This is our faith community, and a community shares in life and love together. Let us live into that call to love, not fear, with patience, kindness, and creativity. Share your highs and lows with someone else every day. Call a friend and share in a prayer together. Sing a song that brings you comfort. We are navigating this new space together, and none of us are alone in this. May you know a love the surpasses fear, and may you share that with one another.