By: Rev. Travis K. Walker of Wiley and McClave United Methodist Church
A little over one month ago, Ash Wednesday was celebrated and remembered at both congregations I serve as their pastor. I recall the act of placing ashes on our foreheads as a sign of both repentance and fully recognizing our dependence on God’s care and hope for us. In the time that passed, my own dependence on God’s hope and grace has grown in ways that I could have never imagined.
At this time, we are fully experiencing and living through the Covid-19 pandemic. This viral disease has uprooted our lives in ways that still seem unfathomable. School buildings are closed for in-person instruction. Businesses are operating with new guidelines. Churches have suspended in-person worship and activities. Hospitals and nursing homes are using different procedures. Many have lost their job or a major source of income. Especially heartbreaking is the struggle those who have been afflicted with the disease experience and for those who have lost loved ones to the disease. There is little that is normal or routine in our lives right now.
The words found in Isaiah 41:10 have been a foundation for me in this time. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” The quick pace of the changes, disruptions, spreading disease is unsettling, but Isaiah grounds me in the hope that we are not alone in this struggle. Our God continues to be with us and will guide us through this time. For me, that is a sign of hope.
I also see signs of hope from our community members. I see hope in our medical professionals who are working hard to care for those affected by the disease and prepare for those who will be affected, often at risk to themselves. I see hope in how quickly our teachers have adapted to connect and instruct our children in new ways. I see hope in how many businesses are creatively serving their customers. I see hope in how our community is reaching out and supporting those who have lost their jobs or income. I see hope in how many pastors and churches are proclaiming the Gospel message in new ways and forms in these trying times.
It is my fervent prayer that for southeast Colorado we continue to stay grounded in the hope that comes from our God. It is also my prayer that we help our neighbors as Christ calls us to help. It is my prayer that healing pours out on all who need it in this pandemic. Lastly, it is my prayer that we live into the everlasting hope shared with us through Jesus Christ and that we may be light in the world. Let us be the community and people God calls us to be. Amen.