As we come to the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, I find myself getting overwhelmed with emotion more often. I met with a group of clergywomen yesterday and we read a portion from Exodus. It almost took my breath away when I thought of this passage as a metaphor for our past year:
“As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians pursuing them, and cried out in terror to God. They turned on Moses, asking, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you must lead us out to die in the desert? What have you done to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better to work for the Egyptians than to die here in the desert!”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory Yhwh will win for you today. Though you see Egypt today, you will never see it again. Yhwh will do the fighting for you; you have only to keep still!”
Then Yhwh said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to march on. And you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea, and split the sea in two, that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.” Exodus 14: 10-16, The Inclusive Bible
A year ago, we were on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was what we knew, comfortable. If you had told us a year ago that the church’s building would be closed for a year, that consuming bread and wine would no longer be regularly offered, that hospital and home visits simply wouldn’t happen? Impossible. Impossible as getting across a sea without a boat.
And then suddenly, the Israelites were walking on dry ground. When they turned around, the sea was back. There was no going back.
We have done the seemingly impossible over this last year. And we can’t go back.
We are at an impossible new place. But we are not alone. And our community is still here: digitally, and through phone calls and notes, and especially prayers. God is still with us–perhaps even more clearly than before. Thanks be to God.