By Pastor Nissa Peterson
Chatfield and Root Prairie
Once while I was working at a summer camp, I stayed at a campsite in a wooded area that didn’t have a lot of underbrush. The bathroom at this campsite was a trail walk away from the main camp area – but due to the open area, the trail was hard to follow – especially at night.
One evening I was the last one awake. I had walked to the bathroom, but on the walk there my headlamp died. The trail wasn’t clear. It was dark. I didn’t know which way to get back to the campsite – I felt lost and scared and alone.
The reality was that I was close enough to the campsite that I could have yelled to my co-guide and she could have helped me find my way back – but I didn’t want to wake everyone up. So I stumbled around for a while in the dark, just hoping I was going in the right direction.
I think as a church and as a world we feel like we are lost in the dark wilderness right now. For a while it seemed like the trail was clear – but once again the path is unclear. Once again we feel isolated and disconnected. Once again we worry about how our actions and choices could negatively impact our friends and neighbors.
But unlike my sojourn in the wilderness, our churches and communities have not bumbled around in the dark alone. We have called out to those nearby. We are walking hand in hand through the wilderness!
•We reach out through connecting to those who are isolated.
•We reach out through vaccines, masks, and distancing.
•We reach out through sharing resources with those financially impacted.
•We reach out through sharing plans, wisdom, and encouragement.
Although we might feel like we are in the dark wilderness, we are not alone. It doesn’t matter if the headlamp or flashlight or campfire goes out- because the light of Christ shines within us! No matter how alone or dark or scary the journey might feel, God is always with us! God always loves us! And while this doesn’t erase the difficulty, it gives us hope.
My walk in the dark at camp would have been much less scary and alone if I had called out to my co-guide. Just as our walk right now is less scary when we call out to God. Our faith and trust in God give us a path to follow, a light to lead us home, and hope that we will someday emerge from this journey. Relying on God won’t magically make the virus disappear (just like my co-guide could never magically make it daytime), but God’s presence and love throughout this remind us that God loves us, God is not doing this to punish us, and God gives us strength, creativity, and wisdom to make the world a better place. Go in peace, because God goes with you.