March 19, 2020

A Devotional for Lent

The advent of the coronavirus causes me to wonder again at how much of the world exists outside our human awareness. It is not only our ignorance of the lives of billions of people, animals, plants, bacterial and viral life, and the inanimate elements who and which inhabit and comprise our planet. It is ignorance of objects and forces in the universe too profound for us to grasp and too minute to be seen by the strongest electron microscopes. These unexperienced layers of life are just as real as our everyday lives, just as integrated into existence as we are. Sometimes confoundingly beautiful, sometimes fearful and threatening, each life and element is a thread woven into the fabric of the creation in which we live, a creation somehow gone wrong. 

Likewise in mystery and complexity is the Spirit of God. The Spirit that sustains creation despite its brokenness pervades everything visible and unseen, everything tangible and imagined. The Spirit who moved over the face of the waters of creation and inspired the apostles at Pentecost impels life forward and invades our every experience of it: the cool, smooth surface of a slice of obsidian; the billions of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen in the morning mist; the eerie glow of a tumbling meteor; the babbling joy of a first grandchild; the anguish that flows down our cheeks when we lose the person we love most in the world.  The Spirit is there in all of it–the Spirit, our ground of being, holding in safety those we have lost, holding together the weave of creation in a reality we sometimes think we glimpse, but cannot hope to understand.

On the cross, a broken and suffering Jesus breathes his last, offering up His spirit both to the Spirit in whom He trusts His all and to the hope for our broken universe in all its vastness and complexity.  He offers his life and death in demonstration of the love and mercy of that same Spirit for our infected and aching, but beautiful world. And, after the cross, Jesus’ own breath is restored and he is resurrected to a new actuality—the Easter reality that cannot die, that at once participates in the layers of life we know and don’t know and the layers of a Spirit we can only guess at.

As we watch the coronavirus take its course, let’s remember that in everything the Spirit remains above us, around us, within us, and for us–for the Spirit is the sustaining gift and presence of the God who clings to us, relieving our fevered lives with hope, love, and mercy. 

Written by Chris Wrenn

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