Like a bone-jarring, stomach-turning roller coaster ride with a sweaty lap bar and no headrest the months of March, April, and now May is flinging the Christian faith onto a new ride of examining its worship, pastoral care and mission. Some are screaming and shouting along the way. Others just want to get back to the safety of familiar ground. No one is asking to traverse on this corkscrew of a journey. Everyone is looking to make sense of the dramatic and drastic change to not only our daily lives but also the uncertainty of our health, jobs and future.
On any given day, we can find ourselves ebbing and flowing between enjoying some of the benefits of being in quarantine with the opportunity for additional rest, picking up a new hobby, and starting or finishing projects around the house. In a flash, we can feel overwhelmed with the change of pace, the added stress of being isolated, a loss of income, an upended school year. It is stressful when these arise! Inward emotions can swing from one extreme to another quickly. Finding ourselves in these ascending and descending moments can make us more receptive and more open to search for meaning, love, hope, and peace.
As Christians, we are shaped and formed by the love, hope and peace found in Jesus Christ and we continue to be shaped and formed by this good news for the rest of our lives. We are shaped by knowing that God moves to heal the brokenness and isolation caused by life and sin to restore us to one big family. This good news is for sharing. We have the ability to connect and translate this good news in our current circumstances. But what can we say when we are secretly wondering where God is during this pandemic? What if we muck things up by saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time making someone feel even more anxious, frightened, frustrated or angry? What can we offer when we have our own apprehensions, our own vulnerabilities, and our fears? The most significant and powerful offering we can make to another person is simply saying, I’m here when you need me.
I’m here when you need me. No strings attached. No expectation of a return. No need for reciprocation. Just, I’m here when you need me. It is an offering to a family member, a co-worker, a classmate, a neighbor, an acquaintance. It is an invitation on the other person’s terms. When we say, I’m here when you need me, we are offering our presence, an encouraging word, our help, support, a listening ear, the shedding of tears, the making a house or car repair, mowing the lawn, making and delivering a meal.
When we say, I’m here when you need me, we can offer a prayer and share a scripture that is meaningful to us. When someone takes us up on this offering, we can share our own apprehensions, vulnerabilities and fears. We can offer and speak about how God uplifts us through Jesus Christ giving us a wholistic picture of the world: past, present and future and the unmeasurable grace that accepts our weaknesses. In saying these words, we are offering our gifts, talents and our abilities that are unique to us. As Christians, we attribute these gifts to God.
The offering of ourselves, –in the name of Christ –is the fundamental core of the Christian faith. Some call it a witness while others call it a proclamation. Some call it evangelism while others call it ministry. Regardless of the name, offering the love of Jesus Christ that gives meaning, love, hope and peace to us, is our identity. Since it is who we are, let us spend the month of May and beyond being ourselves and saying to others, I’m here when you need me. When we do this, that bone-jarring, stomach-turning roller coaster ride that we have been traversing these past several weeks will not seem so fearful, drastic, and difficult. At least, we will have someone else to share in the screaming, shouting and wanting to find familiar ground along this corkscrew of a journey.