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– Pastor’s Corner –

By The Rev. Andy Schottelkorb Our Savior’s Lutheran • Cornell

What can we say about the year of our Lord, 2020? It’s a year of trial and tribulation for the record books. It’s a year of grief, sickness and death on a historic scale. It is a year of world-wide lamentation that challenges all of us each day, and for an unknown, extended period of time, as well.

The language and practice of lamentation is not the norm for us, but it is definitely biblical and can be extremely helpful in difficult times. It is the equivalent of taking deep belly breaths for our souls. Psalm 13 is an example of lamentation. It begins with a question to God that has echoed throughout the ages in times of hardship and suffering, “How long, O’ Lord?”

We don’t yet have an answer to this question from the Lord regarding the pandemic. True, the Lord has been at work all throughout the pandemic, giving strength, especially to healthcare workers, business owners, and wisdom to scientists and advisers. The Lord has also given peace, creativity, endurance and hope to all of us.

Indeed, answers from God are surfacing in the advances for treatment and care for those who get sick, and in those who recover. Dexamethasone is an approved steroid treatment that helps. Antibodies have shown to offer several months worth of protection for a person after recovery.

In addition, there are positive answers coming in terms of the number of vaccines vetted for our future use. According to the World Health Organization, nine potential vaccines are in the last phase of testing (Phase III). Five potential vaccines are awaiting final approval. There is hope there, with the possibility of widespread vaccination by July of 2021.

Hope is also found in our commitment to band together against the spread of the virus. These are the familiar, preventive acts of mask wearing, physical distancing, handwashing and flu vaccination.

And yet – pardon me for the biblical gallows humor here – but a lot of our reality still stinks like Lazarus’ corpse. We are still waiting for the sorrow in our hearts to dissipate and for more concrete evidence of God’s good news to appear in our world.

The psalmist encourages us to hold on tenaciously to hope. In Psalm 13 – which I recommend to you as a quick read – we are called to keep bugging God in our prayers for an answer. We are called at the same time to trust that God will answer us, in a fashion that reflects God’s steadfast love and salvation.

Keep praying to God, and acting safely and lovingly toward your neighbor. Stay confident that God’s grace and mercy will carry us through this time of trial.