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It’s Going To Be Bad

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away.’ … I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.” – John 14:27b-29 (NRSV)

It’s the speech that I call The Great Assurance – Jesus’ efforts to prepare, to steady, and to comfort those closest to him before the you-know-what hits the fan.

“You have heard me say, ‘It’s going to be bad.’ I’m telling you again – it’s going to be bad – so that when the bad begins and when the bad overwhelms you, you’ll be prepared to hold on to love and remember that you’re not alone.”

Infectious disease experts are telling us that the bad will be with us for many months.

Climate scientists are telling us that the bad will be impacting human behavior for decades to come.

Psychologists are telling us that the bad could have generational consequences.

Genocide scholars and anti-racism activists are telling us that the bad will keep rearing its evil head, day after day.

“I’m telling you, ‘It’s going to be bad,’ so that you’ll be prepared to hold on to love and remember that you’re not alone. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Friends, it’s bad these days – for a lot of reasons. Many of us feel unprepared. Instability is on public display when we most need steadiness. Comfort seems to be practicing social distancing.

Keep holding on to love.

Remember that you’re not alone.

Keep holding on to love.

Remember that you’re not alone.

It’s bad, Jesus. It’s really bad, and the end isn’t in sight. Let there be love, for the living of each day. Let there be solidarity, for the perseverance of healing.

written for the Daily Devotional

Earth’s Joy

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness…
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving.
Psalm 100:1-2, 4 (NRSV)

I was tired before the pandemic overtook our days, our news, our livelihoods. Far from dancing my way into God’s presence, I was crawling to the gates with my body tired and my tongue dry.

Maybe you were too.

Maybe you are now.

Thank goodness – thank God – that all the earth is still making its own joyful noise, chirping and thrumming and blooming and waving without minding our weariness.

Across the street from my home, the neighbor’s yard is resplendent with the gladness of dandelions – perhaps the most stubborn flower I know in its determination to be friendly.

On a now-quiet Chicago beach, a pair of endangered piping plovers are blissfully building their nest, dancing their courtship, and dining on God’s banquet of insects and crustaceans.

Through the streets of Samsun, Turkey, a large flock of sheep recently wandered and grazed, not minding the rightness or wrongness of their path, only noisily joyful for bites of grass along the way.

Across national parks and nature reserves, bears and boars and cranes and turtles are expanding their territories and visibility, no longer constrained by tourists and traffic.

In the relative quiet of quarantine, scientists report that the earth’s natural noise is remarkably quieter – and more measurable. The crust quakes less, the ocean’s waves resonate further, the volcanoes’ rumbles are more evident.

While humanity observes a season of silence – whether from virus or fatigue, with grief or frustration – all the earth continues to sing God’s praise.

Teach my heart to retune its song to joy, O Creator. And when my song is quiet and my tongue is heavy, tune my heart to hear your praise sung by all the earth.

written for the Daily Devotional

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