One of the things that we do as a community when we gather each week is take time to share with one another through Peace Candle reflections. The peace candle focus for Lent is looking for love. Before we were asked not to gather in person, we challenged you to adopt a Lenten practice of looking for love. We invited you to take a rock each week and to place it somewhere where you witnessed love. Witnessing to love is witnessing to God’s presence. By doing this we train ourselves to be more attentive to God’s presence in the world and we teach others by naming the love that we see.
Although we are unable to gather in person, it’s important to us that the peace candle time still be a time in the service when we hear from one another. So this morning I’m adding on to your task. In addition to looking for love this week – I invite you to send us an email or text or short video reflection, about what you found. Our hope is that next week – when we take time for the peace candle, instead of Kelli or I talking to you, we’ll be able to share photos or videos from members and friends in our congregation – telling the good news of God’s love at work in the world. So we light the peace candle this morning to name the reality of love in the world. Light the candle. God, may the light of this candle remind us of your presence. Help us focus on your love in the world. Grant us strength and courage and comfort. Amen.
Romans 8:31-39 (Nothing separates us from God)
The state of the world is changing so rapidly that by the time you hear this message on Sunday it may be woefully out of date. We are learning the meaning of exponential math in a real way that none of us ever anticipated. And yet, there’s this bizarre piece to all of this – the state of the world is accelerating at a pace that makes us uncomfortable and our best course of action to slow down, to be still.
This is hard for most of us. We are used to pitching in, getting to work, solving things. We want to be helpful. We want to feel useful. We want to gain some sense of control. We do not want to be still. That feels absurd.
And it may in fact feel absurd, but I want to remind you that it’s biblical. If you read the stories of Jesus it’s clear he was a busy guy. He worked hard healing and teaching and preaching, but at times he was also still. In fact, he drew criticism for it. People would ask – Jesus, why are you going away to pray by yourself when there’s so much work to do. Or Jesus, why didn’t you hurry to help us when we called you. As we know from the scripture of Ecclesiastes and the song by the Byrds – there is a time for everything – and right now, unless you are part of the medical community or a crisis intervention team – it may be your time to be still.
Of course, the issue with being still is that we can no longer distract ourselves from all of the things we are trying to avoid or trying to fix. This is a time to focus on Paul’s words to the Romans:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are people of faith. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. God is with us during this extremely trying time and we are being offered an invitation to try something that is very different – we are being offered an invitation to show our love for one another – to show our love for the world by being still. May we look for the gift of this reality and allow it to deepen our relationships with God, ourselves and another. Amen.