Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.

Day 83, June 4, 2020
“A tunnel of love”

Emerging from the complete shut-down instituted during the Coronavirus Crisis the phrase “The light at the end of the tunnel” has been used. There is still a great need for taking the virus seriously and there is no guarantee the virus will not make a dreaded return, but it has begun to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel…and we are moving toward that light.

I have been in tunnels before. Downtown Houston has a complete system of tunnels connecting the businesses and buildings through numerous underground passageways. One of my favorite tunnels cuts through a mountain on the way to Yosemite, that incomparable National Park in the mountains of California. Breaking free from the darkness of the tunnel you are greeted with an incredible view of the Yosemite Valley, waterfalls cascading, mountain peaks rising in breathtaking formations, and a sparkling stream winding its way through the vast green meadow. Each one of us has undoubtedly experienced memorable tunnels on our journey of life.

My favorite tunnel is not majestic, not particularly impressive, and not even permanent. My favorite tunnel is portable. Perhaps this particular tunnel is my favorite because of the memories attached to it. You see, my favorite tunnel is the tunnel that is formed after a children’s or youth sporting event. Out on a field set apart for soccer, football, baseball or softball, in a gymnasium where basketballs bounce and volleyballs are spiked, when the sporting event comes to a conclusion, the faithful fans form a tunnel. The tunnel is usually made up of parents and grandparents, younger siblings, some dedicated faculty who drop in to cheer on their students, and some old empty-nesters like me who just love celebrating the gift that God has given us in our children and youth. All the spectators line up in two lines facing each other and raise their hands to meet in the middle, forming a human tunnel.

In the same way that the cheering crowd gathers in two lines at the end of a sporting event, today I am inviting you to join me in forming a tunnel. This is a tunnel we are forming to give thanks to God that we have made it this far in our journey through a pandemic that has swept over our state, nation, and the entire world, taking many lives, causing great sickness to others, and leaving our economy and jobs in a state of crisis.

Tomorrow marks the completion of twelve weeks of daily devotionals. The purpose of the devotionals was to help us stay connected in a time of isolation. Tomorrow will be the final daily devotional. Next Monday we will continue our journey in a different format, with daily readings and thoughts from the Gospel of Matthew. To mark tomorrow’s completion of the daily devotionals, we are forming a tunnel to reflect on how God has guided us and provided for us during these days of isolation.

Our tunnel begins forming as the first-responders pair off facing one another.

  • Doctors and nurses and hospital employees, our police officers, members of fire departments, emergency responders all reach toward one another with arms stretched out and hands raised up.
  • All those essential workers who have been working in our stores and grocery markets, driving trucks or delivering mail and packages, sweeping floors and cleaning counters and changing sheets in our hospitals, they need to join the tunnel.
  • Now everyone who has made a mask, get in line.
  • Did you write a note? Make a phone call? Send an email? Stand outside a window and wave to someone in a care facility? Help with grocery shopping?
  • Did you honk your horn and holler congratulations as you passed yard signs that signified this house was home to a member of the Class of 2020?
  • Did you make or bake something just to brighten the day for a friend?
  • Did you say a prayer? Did you shed a tear? Did you make time to listen to someone who just needed a friend?
  • Did you run with Maud? Did your heart cry out for justice when George Floyd couldn’t breathe?
  • When you saw some of the protests break out in violence and the looting and fires that followed, did you turn to the words of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Did you pray with St. Francis, “Make me an instrument of your peace?”

We are not done with the Coronavirus Crisis, but it does seem there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As recent events have shown, there will undoubtedly be more crises we face as we seek to live faithfully in this world. Facing challenges is part of living. I hope this Coronavirus Crisis has proven to us yet again that our strength comes from forming a tunnel, our strength comes from reaching across and joining hands, our strength comes from working together in unity and harmony, and our strength comes from working together for peace and justice.

Today I am telling you about my tunnel. Today I am inviting you to join my tunnel. But today I hope you will think about your tunnel. Who have you seen reaching out? Who have you seen joining hands? Who have you seen serving and striving to make a difference in a time of darkness?

Forming a tunnel can be a powerful experience, one that both humbles your heart and fills that same heart with hope. All of a sudden I look at the tunnel in my mind and I see Martin Luther King, Jr. reaching to grab hold of the hand belonging to Mother Teresa. Now I see a Pope connecting with a Protestant pastor. Now I see someone who is serving food at a shelter offering a hand of friendship to one who came because they were hungry or thirsty, because they needed clothes, or they were a stranger and needed a welcome. Oh my, now I see Mr. Rodgers extending his gentle hand to touch a Teddy Bear’s paw. When hands like that join you realize the light is not only at the end of the tunnel. The light shines in the tunnel. The light shines in the darkness.

Tomorrow will bring the end to twelve weeks of daily devotionals. It has been such a privilege to share these reflections with you. In anticipation of the end of the devotionals, and in celebration of the tremendous blessing it has been to share this journey together, today a tunnel is forming in my mind. I see you. I see your face. I see your heart. I see a person filled with kindness and compassion. I see a person committed to working for a world where God’s light and God’s love finds a home in each and every person. I see a person who is my friend. I see a person who is my brother and my sister. Standing face to face with you, my dear friend, my arms are stretched out and my hands are raised up. Meet my hands in the middle. Form a tunnel. And as we form a tunnel together, let us give thanks that not only is there a light at the end of the tunnel, that light is with us right in the middle of the tunnel, shining and bringing hope even during the darkest of days.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” (Matthew 4:16)

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

With the love of Christ,