It’s August in America

It’s August, y’all. Who thought this is where we’d be…in August?

I still remember when churches had to cancel in-person Easter services and I thought, “well, at least this will make for some really fantastic Pentecost services.” For those of you not familiar with the church calendar, Pentecost comes seven weeks after Easter–so of course, that didn’t happen.

But August? Really? Here we are debating whether or not kids should (or even can) go back to school. Some are. Some aren’t. Some are entering into a hybrid model. All options are causing parents and teachers and school staff great amounts of anxiety and stress.

Should teachers put their own health at risk? How are they supposed to balance teaching in-person AND online? Are kids at risk back at school? If they stay home, how will parents continue to earn much-needed paychecks while juggling child-care and home schooling? It’s a huge mess.

On a more shallow note, I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in five months (take-out, yes, but no in-person dining). It’s a shallow concern for me, but not for restaurant and bar owners across the country.

Of course, the pandemic experience is different depending on where you live–and that’s part of the problem. America is a large, diverse and divided country with no coordinated national effort to combat this virus.

Whether we are health care professionals, essential workers, stuck at home by ourselves, juggling kids and work or struggling to find employment (or even get logged in to receive benefits), we are weary. We are worried and weary, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

And on top of all that, there are NO HUGS! How the #$%@ are we supposed to get through this without hugs?

In no way, shape or form do I think that God caused this pandemic as some sort of punishment (although it is tempting to fall into the trap of believing that it’s all to punish whatever behavior you currently find objectionable at the moment). But I do believe that God is always working in and around and through us, no matter what is happening in this world.

I have been leaning heavily on the portion of Isaiah that was written during the time the Israelites were in exile in Babylon (chapters 40-55). The whole section is an affirmation of who God is, all that God has done and how we belong to God. It is also a reminder that God is at work in our lives even when we can’t see it.

My go-to verse right now is:

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert

Isaiah 43:19

I hope that God is, indeed, doing a new thing. That we will emerge from this time and not go back to normal, but move on to something better than what we were. Better wages for those who seemed inconsequential in the past, but who we now realize are essential. Better access to healthcare for all. Better funding for public education. Better systems for protecting and serving all of our citizens.

My other go-to verse right now is from Galatians.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all

Galatians 6:9-10a

I know we’re tired, but let us continue to move forward in faith. Faithful in the knowledge that God is doing something new in the midst of the madness. Faithful in the knowledge that the good we do for one another is never wasted.

I’ve been talking all week about being gentle with yourself–and ways to to rest and renew. Because this is hard…and we’re tired…and probably less-than-our-best selves. And to be remain faithful and hopeful and doers of what is right and good takes energy. Be sure you are guarding and replenishing yours so that you can be the person God calls you to be in this time and place.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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