For Christians, next week Lent draws to an end as we observe Holy Week. Lent can sometimes feel like a downer when we stick to our fasting resolutions and give something up as a path to self-discipline as we draw closer to God and prepare for Easter.
It is easy to view our Lenten preparation as a solo act between God and us, overlooking the fact that we are part of a community. During the pandemic, so much has changed how we interact and connect as a community.
I have heard it said the church can be seen as a field hospital in the midst of pain and suffering. As a hospital chaplain, this image is rich for me. We all have wounds that are not visible to the naked eye. We suffer painful relationships, disappointment in our work life, mental and emotional fatigue, especially during this long pandemic year when we have been isolated, limiting so many things that give us joy.
What wounds do we see in the field hospital of our society? Is there a way for us, as individuals, to tend these wounds?
The pain of loneliness is one wound I see. Donald Miller, American author, speaker and business owner, said when a novelist sits down to write a story, there is a question they ask themselves to create meaningful, engaging stories. That question is: What if? The question, “What if?” can radically change a story and a life.
What if you ran a marathon to raise funds for a cure for cancer? What if you renewed your marriage vows? What if you mentored a teenager? What if you risked being vulnerable? What if you forgave or asked for forgiveness?
What if you volunteered for a local organization such as Family Promise, the Common Ground Free Store, People In Need or Annie’s Outreach?
What if you took a stand against injustice, even if it was unpopular in your circle? What if you stopped playing it safe, listened to your heart and followed your passion? What if you chose love over fear?
Maybe listen to the “What if” calling from the depth of your soul? Perhaps it could be the spark to set your heart on fire, and in addition to binding up the wounds of others, it also binds up the wounds you have inside yourself.
Rachel Held Evans reminded us “Jesus invites us into a story that is bigger than ourselves, bigger than our culture, bigger even than our imaginations.” Following Jesus’ example of deep love and courage enriches us so we can be generous on every occasion, giving way to deeper connection to God and to our neighbors.
Let us remember God’s love and sacrifice as we enter Holy Week, living life with a renewed sense of purpose and peace.
Rev. Dr. Tamara Francis Wilden is ordained in the United Methodist Church and serves as a chaplain with OhioHealth. She serves on the Asbury United Methodist Church’s mission and outreach committee. Wilden is also a registered nurse, wife, and mother of three adult children.