By God’s great mercy, God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

1 Peter 1:3-4

Karl Marx once suggested that religion “is the opium of the people.” It is a way for those in power to keep those who are powerless under their control. Unfortunately, throughout history, this has often been the case.

This passage, one of our lectionary passages for this weekend, is a passage that was likely used to support such endeavors. For if we keep the humbled masses focused on their afterlives, they will not fight us if their lives in the present are filled with crushing violence. When leaders have used this passage to support such endeavors, they have not only abused it, but also missed its intention.

Peter was writing to early Christians who were facing persecution. They were not long for this world because by proclaiming their faith in Christ, they were putting their lives in mortal danger. They were facing literal trials and suffering that were testing their faith.

And Peter is, first and foremost, a good pastor. He was giving the people the hope that they need to hear right now: that God will provide wondrous joys when they reach the afterlife. That joy cannot be touched or diminished. It is safe. The trouble will end.

One might argue that our current predicament might fit a much lesser version of this mold (since in no way are we facing persecution). Many of us are frustrated. Anxious. Uncertain of the future. When this will end.

We want answers. We want fixes. We want someone to blame and punish so that this will go away. We want our lives to get back to normal.

And we’re used to getting all of that rapidly in our twenty-first-century world.

But nature has given us a test that is defying all of these questions.

There are no clean-cut answers. There is no quick fix. There is no real answer as to who is to blame. And the “normal” we thought we knew is never coming back.

We are in this for the long-haul. It will not be easy. The long-term repercussions of this pandemic are barely visible on the horizon. But still, there is hope.

Many of you know that I have lost a lot of my family during my relatively short life-time. There have been many illnesses and accidents and so many other tragedies. What I have learned from these experiences is this: everything will be okay – we just don’t know precisely what okay will look like.

This is not the end. And even when this disease has run its course and we begin to step back into the sun, that will only be the beginning of a brave new world.

The promises of God are that God is with us through whatever may come and that God will provide new life. Here and now. And especially in the hope of the new day that is coming.

Hold onto that hope, especially when you feel your strength is failing. You can do this. You will see the bright new dawn one day soon. And you are never, ever alone.

Blessings, Pastor Janie

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