I like the moon, as anyone that knows me very well can attest. I am not sure why I do. Perhaps it is because it is the only heavenly body where mankind has set foot.
Perhaps it is the fact that something so far away has such an effect on the tides. Perhaps its constant change is what draws me in.
Most humans are not fond of change. Change often results in uncertainty. Uncertainty often causes anxiety and worry over the unknown.
The changes in the moon are known and predictable. We know when it will rise in the east and set in the west.
We know when the earth’s shadow will cause a lunar eclipse and which portions of the world will be able to view the eclipse.
It is not the change, in and of itself, that causes anxiety but unpredictable change.
The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for the most unpredictable change that I have ever experienced.
I experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area of California in 1989. In the spring of 2019, I was forced to evacuate my home in Tulsa, Oklahoma as the Arkansas River threatened to burst its levies and flood my neighborhood.
Both of these experiences, while worrisome, were relatively short in duration and localized in scope. COVID has been neither short in duration nor limited in its scope.
I have been asked by many about my thoughts on COVID and its relationship to God and my beliefs.
What I do believe is that the pandemic has offered the world an opportunity for sabbath. It has offered a detour away from the normal day-to-day.
It has offered an opportunity to sit back and examine the way we operate in relationship with all of God’s children and the whole of God’s creation. In general, our response in this country has instead been noisy rhetoric and violence.
God is anything but predictable to mere mortals. But what is predictable about God is that God is always present with us.
God will always offer grace and mercy. God’s steadfast love endures forever. That is one of the main sources of my own reassurance when things seem out of control.
I often must remind myself of this and remind myself that God gave the example of sabbath after working for six days creating the universe.
Being intentional about creating sabbath for myself has not yet been something that I have made a priority for myself. It is in those times when I am best able to listen for God’s still small voice.
When God sent the prophet Elijah to Mount Horeb, Elijah did not find God’s presence in a strong wind, an earthquake, nor a fire. God was not found in the destruction, noise, and violence of those things.
God’s presence was found, instead, in the sheer silence that followed those three.
One of the benefits that sabbath can provide is silence. It can provide shelter from the din and noise of the world. It can provide for a heart that listens intently for God’s will.
Our response to the sabbath provided should be to live into the rest provided, seek God’s will, and turn away from the noise and violence offered elsewhere. May it be so.
Brent Wiescamp is pastor of First Christian Church in Salida.