Tag Archives: Covid

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Unforgettable: Covid Cure

‘I will not forget you! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me’ (Is. 49: 15b, 16).

In our covid-struck but not destroyed 40th anniversary as a ministry, I rejoice. I am grateful for periodic visits to my nearly 95-year-old Mom who still presides with dignity over the CA home in which I grew up.

Fun to serve her and fun to run thru the 3-mile radius where I can recall homes of classmates, from K-12. Last trip I determined to intercede for each house I ran by where I remembered its previous resident. I pleaded Jesus’ mercy over each.

The gift of remembrance! As I bounded by familiar dwellings, I recalled memories, foul and fair, plus phone numbers and spirit-to-spirit connection with a few who I knew in formative seasons. If I recall each one prayerfully, with hope for a brighter future, how much more does Jesus? ‘I will not forget you!’ says our God who does not forget each child’s cry for mercy, even if the adult-child appears to have forgotten Him.

Perhaps our prayerful remembrance has power to bring His Presence near. Now.

At the end of my intercessory run, I approached a street that flanked my elementary school and began to pray for an unusually good friend of the past, Elena, who had lived on that street. I recalled her with affection: funny, pretty, as insecure as the rest of us yet inclined toward God. In high school she turned her heart Jesus-ward while I turned toward ‘gay’ mischief; by the time I came to my senses through the mirror of Mercy, she had turned away from the One to other faces.

Annoyingly zealous, I invited her into my revival. She refused, but not without giving me some sage advice. ‘Do everyone a favor: when you talk about Jesus, don’t mimic someone else. Be yourself.’ Got it. Unforgettable. To paraphrase John Wimber: Be natural. Supernaturally natural.

I only saw Elena a few times after that—at class reunions, at the local gym when I visited Mom. She usually shared some sorrows. Her life had not gone as she hoped; her parents divorced, as did she, and her children suffered and wandered. We laughed of course—neither of us lost our spontaneity–but her pain lay close to the surface as did her resistance to trusting this Jesus again.

Years later, last month, I ran round the corner onto Elena’s old street. A woman walked ahead of me, and I knew it was her. We talked for an hour. Something had changed, her face was lit by unseen light. It seems the covid clampdown coincided with her mother’s death and a child’s further unraveling. Alone, she heard quietly: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ She had nothing but time to return to her first love. He remembered her and she Him.

Of course, we spoke of our days 50 years earlier on that same street trying to figure out our lives. And we rejoiced together that the One who made us remembered us. He is becoming the very form of our lives now. More than nostalgia, we recalled His faithfulness revealed in myriad ways, including friendship. We rejoiced in new mercies that morning. Unforgettable.

Grounded 6

Let’s start with confession: I find virtual Masses unsatisfying. They provoke hunger without consummation. Fill my little screen with big Pentecostal preachers any day. In quarantine, watching pale priests sup together then fade out is a kind of fast.

Maybe that’s the point. On Good Friday we fast from Jesus because He’s gone, in the tomb. We feasted at table, leaned on His holy chest, and now…our realized hope is but a body memory. We ache for Him. We ache more now. Yes, He is Risen, but in Covid-9-time the light of Life shines on an extended Good Friday.

We hunger and our roots fan out. Pope Emeritus Benedict muses on how Catholics going without Eucharist for a time invites our love to plunge deeper. ‘Voluntary spiritual fasting visually expresses the fact that we all need that healing of love which the Lord perfected in the ultimate loneliness of the Cross. Sometimes we need to hunger…if we are to understand the suffering of hungering brothers.’ Those ‘brothers’ apply to all Christians who for a variety of reasons are not free to partake of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

Since becoming a Catholic nine years ago, I have taken communion without my family. Daughter Katie joined me when she became Catholic a few years ago. Separate tables: nothing divides the fellowship of Christians like the Eucharist. A benefit in this ‘fast’ has been a deeper appreciation of the whole Body of Christ, and the traditions common to my evangelical (of many stripes) family members. In hunger I draw from their gifts and eat heartily.

Annette has cultivated a profound love of her Anglican tradition of Eucharist through leadership in Altar Guild where she shepherds and mobilizes devout women who care for the altar—its vessels and linens. Someone must set the table for Jesus and His people and these servants do it with exquisite care. Annette ached for her love of Jesus at altar during this quarantine. I was privileged to escort her into the church, darkened since early March, to strip the altar. This most solemn of annual events is typically reserved for Maundy Thursday. It was emotional, pregnant with meaning, as she carefully instructed me how to help her lay the altar bare in prep for reunion—His rising, and the congregation’s yet-to-be-determined next gathering.

For Holy Week, Annette and I thoroughly enjoyed our son Nick’s virtual version. Alongside his cohort Peter in Austin, the two laid a fine table—smart, funny, profound. Nick takes me to new depths. Afterwards, my other kids and I opened our Bibles to reflect upon the stunning humility, and hope, of Jesus’ self-giving.

We united in His love. He invited us and we encircled Him, as if for a few shining moments we partook of Jesus at the same table.

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