“ A Word of Comfort”

Isaiah 51:3-4 51:3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness He like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. 51:4 Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.

Greetings Faith Family,

Today I’m reflecting on the many conversations over the last couple of weeks in which people have

expressed their distress or sadness about not being able to see one another due to COVID 19. Some in

our congregations have been either directly affected - having loved ones who have contracted this virus and some who died from it. All of us have been indirectly affected whether it be not being able to go out to dinner and the movies, to work, or to church. Because of the breakdown of the economy, there are people whose businesses have suffered, people who cannot afford their rent or mortgage, and there are some who can’t afford to buy groceries and the other things they need to survive on a daily basis. Our country, having been hit by COVID 19, has seen closed businesses and empty streets, and thousands of people who’ve passed on. One could say it resembles a wasteland - one which is shrouded in much grief.

In our own congregations, we’ve also witnessed the grief and pain that comes with losing a loved one

to violent death, old age, or unexpected health complications. We’ve experienced the pain and trauma

which come from knowing our lives are at risk just because of our skin’s color. From this, we know grief

is no respecter of persons. It finds us all. Some of us are simply trying to find hope or some measure of

peace of mind in a society in which the ground seems to have been pulled from beneath our feet.

My heart is with you all and also my prayers. In reflecting on grief, I can remember the passing of my

grandmother who died at 84 years old. Her health had declined to the point that she had to do dialysis

and have a limb amputated. It made me sad at the time and for many years afterward to think of the toll

her health issue had taken on her life. My Grandmother was strong, athletic, an amazing cook who loved

cooking for her family, a faithful woman who dedicated much of her life and time to the church. Yet she

died incapacitated, broken in body and I think even in Spirit a bit by the end. After her passing,

Thanksgiving was different, visiting my grandparents home felt a little less warm, the bright light that

seemed to beckon us to the table seemed more dim. I sensed a deep sadness from all present, some

uncertainty, and even anger.

The weight of grief is extremely heavy and uncomfortable. It’s a wilderness of sorts and can feel

unbearable at times. There’s no button or instant cure for grief. We can’t turn it on and off. We can do

our part to release that burden by taking good, loving care of ourselves; we can walk, run, dance, create

works of art and rest when our souls are weary. Taking in comforting words and allowing ourselves to

simply be is helpful too.

I read a poem years ago that may help some of us to hold our grief it in a different way.

God promises us in our scriptures too, comfort all of our waste places, and to make our wilderness

like Eden, And more! God promises that joy and gladness will be found again and that we’ll feel it to the core of our souls to the point that we’ll be singing songs of thanksgiving! Overtime, our grief mellows, our lives balance out again. We find that our smiles once again come from within reaching not only our mouths but our eyes which have cried many tears.

In this season, let yourself be. Whatever you feel...sit with it or share it until you can let it go, use it, or

until it passes. In this confusing and sometimes cold world, let the joy and warmth of God’s love cover

you and share it with those who need it. Know that however difficult, dry, or devastating the wilderness,

God is with you, God loves you and this too shall pass.

With the Love of Christ,

Pastor Afi

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