BY THE REV. DAVID MERRITT |
It is impossible to predict how your family or mine will handle the stress and strain of life. As we have seen in the past year, families are very resilient and fragile too. In our family and other families, there are trials, setbacks, moments of anxiety, and failures. But in families there exist moments of triumph, milestones, great achievements, and life-changing events.
In these months when many of our restrictions are subsiding both in our state and in the nation, many families are changing in ways they could not predict just a few years ago. Some families are making difficult decisions. Marriage separations and divorce seem to be on the increase in communities of faith. The stress of life in our modern world and the tensions that occur on a daily basis have weakened the bonds of marriage. And with that change, faith communities often see these family units disconnect from their communities of faith.
However, some families have seen some positive changes since 2020: more time together, increased awareness of the precious gift of life, an effort to make time for mindfulness and prayer, and exploring God’s creation. While we have noticed among our families a renewed sense of wonder and promise, the traditional church ministries that have sustained us in the past are stretched. How do we incorporate all of these new ideas and our traditions into a living tapestry of faith in the modern world? Is it possible to be a church and embrace the new world of a post-pandemic world?
Rather than gamble with platitudes and catchphrases, I will simply state that faith for me is an active multifaceted relationship with God and with others who share this planet. Yes, we get lost. Then we find our way. We stumble. We reach out our hands to others for support. We live our faith in a daily struggle and joyful pursuit of God’s love and the Spirit’s power. I, like many of you, have fallen many times in these past weeks and months…but through the Word, the community of faith, in Zoom meetings, and in the simplicity of our hymns/chorales and liturgies I have renewed my covenant once more.
In the church of your choosing, how are you dealing with the ups and downs of life in 2021? Is your family experiencing a crisis or finding renewed hope in all that is life and faith? My family is in the middle. Perhaps your family is somewhere on the spectrum between doing great or really struggling. I would encourage you to take the time to refresh your spirit in prayer, worship, community, and study. It may not “fix” your family but it may offer you the chance to be open to change and wholeness. And if you and I meet in the coming days or weeks, we will embrace each other and simply say: “Sister/Brother the Lord is with you. And also with you (and yours).”
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians Chapter 6: 8-10
About the Author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grandkids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.