Sitting in my office, I look over at my clean white board and wonder where my plans went. On the right side of the board is where I note all my Sunday commitments, usually three to four months in advance. The day after New Hampshire issued its stay at home order, I was leaving my office, and my impulse was to wipe the board’s right side. On the left side of the board, I list a yearly calendar of important events and meetings. There are two tentative dates that I have not erased. For the first time in 8 years, my white board is not covered with my hen scratching. It is almost blank. Where did my plans go? Small sensations of grief and disappointment do raise themselves. But even though the white board is empty, I think God has caused some old and new notations to be written on my soul. How tenuous the white board really is, and how foolish to value it so much.
I fear that when I read of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, all I see is the number, and not see the faces. Faces of people in residential care, in poor neighborhoods, in prison, on reservations, living in homeless camps, suburban homes and skyscrapers, and the faces of those who took risks to care for other people. The goodness and evil of the human state rushes forward in chaotic tones as old as Cain’s question to God. And I wonder how my white board became important.
In Luke 12, Jesus teaches the parable of the man who has such a great harvest he cannot fit it into his storehouses. Elated by the harvest, his wealth, his security, the man decides to tear down his old barns and build new ones. His plans are laid out, maybe on a white board? But the man is not rich toward God, and his plans come to nothing, when on that night his soul is required of him. His plans are erased, and I wonder who inherited the grain? Hopefully the poor. Jesus goes on to contrast the man to the ravens whom God cares for; as the ravens do not own storehouses, they exist as recipients of God’s grace.
Conversations continue at length about what “reopening churches” will entail. Conversations continue about a new world of mission, ministry, and missiology. Conversations about regathering and reunion, reaching the lost, welcoming the least of these, “adapting” to a history changing episode. As I look at my white board, and think of writing names and dates upon it again, I pray as society inches toward “normal”, I can rewrite with a new spirit and in the Spirit. Can I hold the storehouse plans lightly? Have I prayed into self-examination enough, while hunkered down in an upstairs bedroom? Can I welcome Christ as never before, and never ask Cain's question? I pray Christ’s Body can see everyone as Christ sees us, while in a same but different world, ultimately planning for eternity.
In Jesus name,
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