Dear Siblings in Christ,

Today the sun shone through the trees with their new leaves, and in the wind, the light danced on the walls of my study. The sky was vibrant blue. The lilacs are blooming and are giving off the most intoxicating scent. Everything outside seems so fresh, so alive. Yet I can’t feel it today. Instead, I am restless, hurting, saddened to my very core.

We celebrate Pentecost today, the day the disciples were whisked into a new life of mission and healing, love and hope. We heard the story of a wind like a locomotive, the cacophony of countless languages all spoken at once yet understood by all. And we heard about flames dancing on the heads of Jesus’ followers.

Yet in these past days, flames have become an image of violence and fear in the face of rioting crowds, too close to our own communities and our own homes for comfort. Wind, God’s life-giving breath for me has become a reminder of that cry we’ve all heard this week, “I can’t breathe.” And all of this is set in a backdrop of over 100,000 deaths due to the Covid virus. Pentecost should be a day of celebration and joy. And yet today, tears are coming far too easily.

Where do we go with our grief, with our fear, with our restlessness? Where do we find healing in these difficult days? As God’s people we proclaim God breaking into the darkness of the world, but today for me, that darkness feels overwhelming.

And so we open ourselves up to God’s gift of lament.

God’s people have sung their laments from the beginning of time. Abraham lamented about God’s promise of a son not coming soon enough. Prophets lamented when God’s Word was just too difficult. The book of Psalms is filled with laments, words of longing and distress, songs of restlessness and grief.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Jesus cried from the cross (Psalm 51). An ancient voice cries, “As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. I thirst for God, for the living God… My tears have been my food day and night” (Psalm 42). “Have mercy on me, O God…” is a common prayer, and a plea that is a part of so many psalms.

So today we add our voices, our prayers, the cries of our hearts to the cries of God’s people as we see the devastation, the fear, the violence, the suffering, that fill the world today. Today we call out to God for healing and comfort for the world, for our communities, and for ourselves.

But today we also remember another voice, that of the resurrected Jesus, who broke into the darkness of the disciples’ room where they were locked away in fear, hiding from the world. Jesus simply appeared in their midst with those words, “Peace be with you,” dispelling their fear, their grief, bringing light into their darkness (John 20:19-23).

Peace be with you. Isn’t that what we long for today? Peace in the streets of cities throughout our nation and the world. Peace for all who are afraid. Peace to heal the divisions that rock us to the core. Peace for all who seek healing. Peace for all who mourn. Peace for our own hearts that are restless and seeking solace.

Today I lament. Today I sit quietly with God, praying for that peace to surround me and all those I love, and all who are in pain this day. Today I pray those same psalms that God’s people have prayed for generations. Today I weep. Today I long for God’s healing touch. But today I wait. I wait with hope and trust. I wait for the healing that I trust will come. Today I wait for God’s presence that will break into the darkness. Today I wait for the dancing sunlight, the vibrant sky and beautiful blooms in my garden to touch my soul. Because they will. That is who God is, the one who will break into my darkness, into my fear, into my grief, and bring me light and peace and love.

May you know God’s healing touch, God’s precious grace, God’s life-giving breath, and God’s overwhelming love, today, tomorrow, and always.

With love,

Pastor Joanne