It started at ground zero. A microscopic organism caused havoc on an entire planet and shut down the World in the physical realm. It made us worry, fear, retreat, and isolate.
What might God do, if we became truly infected with His love? What if we stopped protecting our hearts from His painful work in us? What if we let Him in and burn away the selfishness? What if we died … to self?
What if deeds done and words spoken in the name of Jesus become that contagious? Fueled by the Holy Spirit, may they have the power to set the World on fire with the Love of God?
What if you are ground zero?
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
“Father, Creator and Sustainer of our souls, give us the awareness of our great and dangerous purpose, namely to show a hurting world you came to cause peace through Jesus Christ. Make us bold and start with us!”
(Prose and Pictures, Heidi Viars 2020)
I came in the house carried food from afar
Like women of old, who shopped at bazaars.
Was tired and beat from reading the signs,
From standing on blue tape and waiting in lines.
“How was it?” my hubs and all the kids asked.
I collapsed in the chair and took off my mask.
“Oh, my dear children, let me tell you a tale
How I found tp and this food on sale.
It’s scary and dark as the land has gone mad.
There’s monster out there and it’s evil and bad.
The people have found they can keep it at bay
While they scrub and clean, and they wipe and spray.
My kids paid attention, sat around my old chair,
“Tell us more mom!” they begged, and then listened with care.
“The Monster is sneaky, it feeds of the fear
Of the people who live far away and live near.
No one has seen it. It’s quite the demise
The monster is tiny!” … My kids looked surprised.
“The monster stopped concerts, closed parks, held up trains,
Closed the schools and the churches and halted the planes.
Some people can’t work and make money no more
Some are afraid that things vanish from stores.
It’s made all the land seem careless and cold
While the monster keeps threatening the sick and the old.”
“So, our dear mother how can it now be,
How can we kill monsters that we can not see?”
I sat back and thought for a moment or two,
Looked down at my kids and thought this thing through.
I went back and forth in my mind for a while
And then I sat up – and my face made a smile.
“Don’t pretend you have answers for those who don’t ask.
Be kind, if they wear or don’t wear a mask.
Some people feel sad cause they can’t hug their friends
While some rather stay inside til the end.
Be patient, endure, and love all the same
For love is the reason that our Lord came.
He knew from the get go, no surprise to Him
He knew that the people be missing their kin.
He said, “Persevere!” to not lose our mind!
He said He’d come back and wants to find
His people bring Good News and hope to all –
For in the end that’s how all the beasts fall.
“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”
(Poem and Pictures by Heidi Viars, 2020)
The pastor gave the final blessing over the congregation from an empty stage. He looked down at his guitar as he strummed a few soft chords and prayed. He was a gentle musician and an honest preacher.
“Love people and love God!” He’d say. Everybody knew he meant it. He lived it.
Her church wasn’t perfect, but her living room was no sanctuary either. She hated leaving like this. With a click. She wished he would have played one more hymn. She closed her laptop and swallowed hard.
She much rather have stood in the foyer for a while and shook a stranger’s hand. She would have loved to give her good friend a nod from afar as they said their good-byes with just a smile, while she finished the conversation with the new couple.
She headed toward the kitchen to make lunch.
She much rather have sat at the burger joint with her family and a few others who would have made their way there. They would have bantered between tables about things that didn’t matter much. But they did. All of it mattered. She just had never realized how much it did.
“Lord, help us not take our blessings for granted, especially your Body. Help us to encourage one another. Put us on each other’s hearts and minds. Teach us to pray … for one another. Help us to not take each other for granted. Lord, let us not go back without understanding fully, that we are your Body and you are the Head. Keep us one in love as you are One.”
1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I grew up in a village in southwest Germany. My childhood was filled with Catholic traditions and celebrations. A small church, and the graveyard that surrounded it, were the center of the town in every way. After mass we stopped and prayed at the graves of loved ones. There were the graves of our great grandparents, grandparents, friends and children of friends. We took time to remember those who passed and our own mortality.
We tended those graves, planted flowers in the spring and pulled weeds and watered in the summer. We stuck small shrubs in the ground in fall and always lit a red grave candle and placed it on the stone.
There were other traditions. In June we picked wild flowers in the fields and made altars in front of our homes. We said our prayers there, too. We swept the streets and scrubbed the sidewalks. We cut the grass and trimmed the bushes, made everything presentable. Then we joined the procession with the priest leading. He walked under a cloth canopy and carried the body of Christ in a golden monstrance. He led the congregation to several outside altars. He was the only one allowed to walk on the flower-carpets, which the women had prepared. As a little girl, I remember wishing I could just walk once on that carpet and get close to such holiness.
When I was older, I left those traditions and altars, moved far away from the small town and fields, from the hills and the woods. I tried to find my own traditions. I questioned what I should remember and what to forget. I always looked for Jesus, and wondered if He ever escaped from under that canopy and came out of the monstrance.
I did find Him, but not in any traditions or in inapproachable holiness. Actually, He found me – in a dark room at the end of my rope and without a shred of hope. I was planning to end my life.
That’s how He finds many people. That’s how He found His friends over two thousand years ago. They were unable to celebrate and felt abandoned and alone. They had lost their hope, too. They were heading to His grave, trying to tend his decaying body.
If you are feeling sadness this Easter because so many things are different and you can’t celebrate like you did before, let Jesus find you. Let Him show you that He overcame death and the grave. He is as near as you need Him to be. He never leaves nor forsakes. He has power over death and victory over sin. Because … He is risen. He is risen indeed.
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death,
because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
I read it in German first. It blew me away. Now it’s finally translated into English.
THE SOUND of LIFE’S UNSPEAKABLE BEAUTY
It is stunningly and elegantly written. Martin’s words touch the heart and soul deeply. His love for God, his talent in his craft and his way with words all come together in this hopeful parable about the search for the meaning of life.
I don’t think there is a better time for it than now!