ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS February 2, 2023 I have some glow sticks on my desk. They are leftover from Christmas Eve. A child was recently visiting the church office with her parents when she noticed the glow sticks. She asked about them, and I figured she wanted one of them. I was glad to share, but in fact, she was more concerned about me. "Do you keep the glow sticks close by because you are afraid of the dark?" she asked. Her concern was appreciated, and it got me to thinking about what we keep close out of concern for what might go wrong or an unforeseen complication. It made me wonder what I keep within reach that is helpful or meaningful in a time of crisis. Are the things that connect me to God as close as I think they are? Are there symbols that I can see? Are there a couple of scriptures I have tucked away in my head that I can easily draw upon? Is there a mantra or a centering prayer I memorized years earlier that comes quickly to my lips? In Deuteronomy 6, we find the Shema. It is central to the morning and evening prayers in the Jewish faith. The Shema speaks of teaching and reciting central ideas within the faith while also using symbols as reminders and sources of reinforcement. At the end of the day, I believe the intention is to deeply instill certain important ideas that will be needed at some point in one’s life journey. We cannot wait until the crisis is upon us. God is always available and full of grace, but if we have not done the work and put the tools in place, it will be even more challenging. I still have some glow sticks on my desk, but more importantly, I have access to a source of light that won’t burn out in 24 hours.
Continue to encourage me in the necessary and important work of faith. Good and Gracious God, you are forever present, always sharing your love, and continually open to us. Yet, as close as you are, I might not recognize you when I need you. I may not know how to tap into the overflowing stream of love if I’ve never tried before. So in this time, teach me and show me and instill in me whatever I might need for those challenging days that are ahead of me. Amen.