Dear friends and members of Resurrection,
What keeps you going, day after day? Where do you find the strength you need to keep trying? In the
face of disappointments, where do you find hope?
I think it is worth reflecting on these questions. Identifying what it is that gives us strength and hope can
help us to turn to those people or practices as we continue to face ongoing challenges.
The specific direction of the year ahead with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic is unclear. It is not
“behind us.” As we make plans for the year ahead, we do so with contingency plans in the background.
It can feel overwhelming. For me, it forces me back to my foundations: what and who gives me strength
I know that many have fallen away from organized religion in the past year. No judgement here.
Organized religion has done a lot of harm over the years—often being very vocal about what it is against
and who is excluded.
However, at its best, it has invited people into loving relationships with God and with one another. For
that I am grateful.
In my own life, I grew up in a tradition that spent a lot of time talking about hell and all the sinners who
were going to end up there. I was told to be glad that I wasn't one of them—but I never felt certain that
was true. And, truth be told, I wasn't sure I wanted to go to a heaven run by the kind of God who would
send so many to hell.
When I went to college, I was introduced to the concept of “grace”--freely given, unconditional love. I
was taught about a God who loved all people—sinners included, sinners especially. I began to consider
that maybe I could be saved from all of my fears and heartaches and lies and losses not because I was
good enough, but because God was.
My relationship with God began to change as I began to trust that the gift that was given to the world in
the person, Jesus, was a revealing of the heart and intentions of God. While some of the accounts about
God found in the Bible make God sound vindictive and cruel— Jesus never does so. His ability to
forgive others astounded me and began to transform me.
I found myself being able to let go of some of the hurts that others had done to me, to actually begin to be
curious about what those people's lives would look like if they lived as God hoped. I let go of a lot of my
anxiety about the future: I trusted the God who gave me “now” for whatever “then” might be.
What I am describing is a process that repeats itself many times over in my life. Especially in times of
stress and uncertainty like the ones we are living in now. I talk to this God that I have come to know
through Jesus and I ask for peace and strength. I experience this God's presence in many places,
including in the love and laughter of this community named Resurrection.
Am I certain where we will be as a congregation in 2022 and beyond? No. But I am curious about how
God will work through us and bring unconditional love and forgiveness and inclusion to all. I am
challenged to speak this truth when others, in the name of God, speak words of judgment and exclusion.
And I am hopeful that, one day at a time, God will renew our strength when it falters and will love us
even during our darkest days.
With love and hope,
The Rev. Dr. Mary Ubuntu is the spiritual leader of Resurrection Lutheran Church and has served in that capacity since 2003. More on Pastor Mary can be found HERE.