John Wesley encouraged Christians to check in with each other with the question, “How is it with your soul?” Sometimes there is a pause as people think—discerning how it is with their souls, assessing if they wish to share how it is with their souls. Often, some souls are hurting while some are rejoicing, some are weary while some are hopeful. Mid-May 2020 I am going to venture a guess many of us might have said, “My soul is like an Easter ham left in the oven just a bit too long. It is overcooked, singed a bit, and needs out of the heat, before the smoke starts curling out of the oven door.” That was when Covid-19 seemed our only big issue. Mid-June 2020, we are pressed to see and search out a solution for centuries of unhealthy racial divisions in this country; plus, the pandemic is surging now in many southern states.
Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, wrote, “There is a place in the soul where we feel God’s embrace. It is found whenever in this life we meet truth, love, gentleness, forgiveness, justice, and innocence. In the presence of these, the soul feels right.” I have a hunch your soul, like mine, longs for moments of feeling God’s embrace in the midst of all that is going on.
Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Be afraid of the one who can destroy both the body and soul in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, not one of them falls to the earth without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)
Those words are meant to invite us into God’s embrace:
1) God’s embrace for white people seeking to be their best selves, while knowing they’ve much to learn about their Black neighbors;
2) God’s embrace for Black people falling under the weight of injustice;
3) God’s embrace for the myriad of diverse people in this world trying to keep hope alive for a better day for themselves and their children and their children’s children.
Wherever we find truth, love, gentleness, forgiveness, justice, and innocence our souls find God’s embrace. Whenever we find truth, love, gentleness, forgiveness, justice, and innocence are absent, if we work for these things, hope for these things, encourage one another through these things, we also find God’s embrace, by sharing it. The embrace part is hard right now with physical distancing. Still, rest assured the God who knows when a single sparrow falls knows our struggles. Do not be afraid. When we share the ingredients of God’s embrace with others whose souls are weary, their souls and ours are restored.
Pray to feel and to help others feel God’s embrace today.
Be Well & Be Blessed,
This week’s devotion is a bit different than most. It is more of a summary of what’s on my heart with regard to recent news items. I spent much of last night trying to put my thoughts into words: for a Facebook post. During my 30 years ministry I’ve been a police chaplain for 15. Just last week I was called out around midnight to share with a death notification. Overall, I appreciate the work they do, like overall I appreciate the work of my pastoral colleagues. That said, sometimes pastor’s cross serious boundaries they should not, as do police. Because of their profession, when that happens the damage done is worse because of their professional responsibilities. So, these thoughts on Police, Racism, Covid-19, and Prayer.
Recently I read the line, “Freedom does NOT mean you get to drill a hole in the boat we are all sitting in.” As you may have guessed, the line has to do with Covid-19 precautions. This last week a store manager was physically attacked for asking a woman to wear a mask she already had hanging around her neck; a DNR/Park Ranger was pushed off the dock into the water while asking people to socially distance; a Family Dollar security guard was shot and killed after asking a woman to refrain from entering the store without a mask; a bus-driver was spit upon for asking a rider to put on a mask pre-boarding as per policy; a police officer was spit on after asking a person to put on a mask.