Randomness & Redemption

May is a pretty quiet month. The liturgical calendar is pretty empty. Except for the commemoration of St. Philip and St. James. And the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Sundays of Easter. And Ascension Day. And Pentecost. And that’s just The Lectionary Page’s Episcopal calendar. The Lutheran calendar on Sundays and Seasons adds the commemoration of St. Matthias and the Vigil of Pentecost. Holy Women Holy Men, which is a bit more ecumenical, adds the commemoration of twenty-three more women and men –– including such notables as Joan of Arc, St. Athanasius, Augustine (of Canterbury), Copernicus, Julian of Norwich, and the Martyrs of the Sudan. There are ten Two Churches’ birthdays. On my own calendar there are other birthdays (Simon our cat’s going to be twelve) and nineteen meetings (so far). And Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, while initially instituted to remember those who died during the Civil War, has also become known as the beginning of summer. A day for cookouts, and games, and races, and revelry. But May will be quieter this year. Somewhat quieter at least. There may even be an aspect of Advent to it, as we wait to see how the pandemic shifts and moves and unfolds. And where outbreaks are. Almost, perhaps, like a murmuration. Do you know what that is? Have you ever seen one? You may not know the word, but you’d know one if you’d seen one. It’s when hundreds or even thousands of birds fly together across the sky in a whirling, undulating, ever-changing unpredictable pattern. And there’s a certain randomness to it that thrills the soul and makes it beautiful.

But not all randomness is beautiful. On April 2, I wrote: “I grievously lament this sorrowful truth. Many people are going to die. And everyone is hoping and praying that no one they know and love will die; but not everyone’s hopes and prayers will be realized. And many people will also wonder why God is allowing this to happen. But God is neither allowing or disallowing it since we have been given both the (ofttimes) blessing and the (sometimes) curse of free will. And when this all winds down, the outcomes will have been determined –– or at least significantly influenced –– by how we chose to plan ahead and use all of the medical and scientific resources at our collective disposal. But of two things I’m confident: God is in lamentation right along with us. And in God’s time, there’s nothing that God can’t redeem.”

It’s alarming to me that “we” could have done better. But there’s nothing that God can’t redeem. It’s distressing to me that there is such wildly inconsistent “news” being reported. But there’s nothing that God can’t redeem. It’s upsetting to me that needed supplies are in short supply. But there’s nothing that God can’t redeem.

Though in the extended Two Churches’ community, it’s “so far so good.” No one has told me about anyone they know who’s died from this virus. If you learn of someone, please let me know and I’ll say a prayer. But in the mean time, I’ll pray that our government’s response to this crisis becomes increasingly focused and nationally consistent. I’ll pray that those who need to take this more seriously, do; and those who need to relax a little bit, do too. I’ll pray that the Holy Spirit conducts a murmuration of Wisdom across the face of this nation and the world, and that nature’s new growth and life which emerges all around us in May, is mirrored in the new and sustained life which emerges through medical research. And I’ll pray that May remains quiet in death. And loud in life. After all, we are all holy women and holy men. Please pray with me. Amen.

About the author: The Rev. Mike Wernick

The Rev. Mike Wernick is a second-career Episcopal priest who grew up in a Reform Jewish family; though he relishes his role as the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Officer for two dioceses and affirms all faith traditions (he has this idea that diversity was never intended to be divisive). He serves on several diocesan and synod committees, including the N/W Lower Michigan Synod’s Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; and is finishing the final year of a practicum to become a Spiritual Director.