“May you live in interesting times,” is an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in “uninteresting times” of peace and tranquility than in “interesting” ones, which are usually times of trouble. So, it didn’t come from China; but the expression causes us to reflect on both sides of the argument.

Few would dispute the claim that the last 12 months have not been interesting; as well as challenging, saddening, burdensome, horrifying and at times traumatic. We have dealt with a pandemic that has killed almost 500,000 of our fellow citizens; a number that rapidly approaches the epidemic of 1918-21. We have witnessed political upheaval within our nation that threatens to further divide us as a people; while we still struggle with issues of health care, unemployment and religious and racial bigotry. We have watched our Capitol be assaulted for the first time since the War of 1812 with Great Britain. We have had to totally redirect our church offerings and missions, including the limiting of those who can attend in person. Our family lives dealt with the reality of
missing Proms, Graduations, Holiday Dinners and gatherings, Weddings, Funerals and in so many cases not even being able to say good bye to loved ones in their final days.

Now, while all of this may indeed seem to be the perfect recipe for a curse; we need to look beyond the immediate. We need to remember that God is with us and none of this was to teach us a lesson or punish us. What better season of the year to call this to mind, the season of Lent, the gathering of the Disciples on Maundy Thursday, the sacrifice our Lord makes by taking up his cross for us; and the final victory over death in the resurrection. Poet Christian Whitman writes, “I am a Christian because I understand that moment of Christ’s passion to have meaning in my own life.; and such a realization eases our loneliness and burdens.”

Christ is with us and because of that; we are called to be with others as well; and we have done this in so many ways as individuals and as a church. May this continue to be our response to these times which have shaken our very beings; but not brought us down; but lifted us up again, and again and again to lend a helping hand, to saying those extra prayers, to becoming more patient with family and friends, to sending a message or card to someone alone to assure them they are not. We can demonstrate, by our faith, that our response to these times in which we live, will indeed not be a curse; but a blessing.

Thanks be to God
Milt Fredericks
Lay Pastor of Congregational Care.