January 13, 2021
Rev. Carmala Aderman
Changing The Name Changes My Expectations
I was emailing a pastor/spiritual director friend a few months ago. In his response, he wrote something like “and I hope you are well in this COVIDtide.”
Yes, COVIDtide indeed!
Stay with me here . . .
Tide. We’re not talking laundry detergent or ocean waves. We’re talking seasons.
These days we more commonly use the word “season” to refer to, well, the seasons of the church year. The season of Advent. The season of Christmas. The seasons of Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.
But in earlier times, the English word for “seasons” in church circles was “tide.” You’re probably most familiar with Yuletide. That’s Christmastide. Advent-tide precedes it by four Sundays. Epiphanytide follows it. Then Lententide and Eastertide, also called Paschaltide. We close out the last half of the church year with Pentecost-tide.
But my friend Patrick shared a new way of understanding this COVID pandemic. He called it “COVIDtide”, a name he got from another friend. The COVID-season. A season when, just like the classic seasons of the church year, God is walking with us.
God is with us. God is with you!
Immanuel. “God with us.” “God with you”! God is right here in the thick of it. Loving you. Strengthening you. Teaching and forming you. That’s what happens during the seasons–the tides–of the church year. You get to recognize how your Lovely Lord has been and continues to be in you and all around you.
COVIDtide is approaching a full year of our lives. Have you reflected on how you are changing in this season? Hopefully, it is how the Holy Spirit is forming you more deeply.
Maybe you’re an extrovert who misses having enough human interaction. Maybe you’re an introvert who rather likes the slower, quieter pace and has the luxury of spending much time at home. Either way, God is with you in this season.
If you’re a front-line healthcare worker, you’re probably exhausted and struggling. I am not being trite here–God IS with you! Loving you, strengthening your soul for today’s work. This COVID season is more powerful for you than for most of us. And remember, God’s love is far more powerful than COVID.
Have you or your family had COVID? Have you lost family members or friends to this disease? Please hear me. God IS with you! Right now. Always. The Holy Spirit’s presence is often quiet and subtle but it is also powerful and transformative. Listen for how the Spirit is nourishing you and caring for you.
Do you have children in school or learning virtually? Maybe you’re trying to work at home at the same time? Has your income been cut back or lost altogether? Are you working in a high COVID-risk environment?
I tell you, Jesus Christ suffered betrayal and terrible physical pain on the cross and imposed His love even on death! He has broken the power of desperation, disease, and death. He IS with you! Jesus’ presence might not be obvious. But He does not lie. Immanuel! In every moment of your life.
“COVIDtide” is cause for hope. “Pandemic”. . . not so much.
The mantra I’ve been using since the beginning of COVIDtide is “We dare not waste this pandemic. That’s just bad stewardship.” (I know. It sounds really churchy, doesn’t it?) There have got to be lessons to learn. Humility to be uncovered. Compassion and generosity to blossom forth in our lives.
One of the ways I am now using to support my efforts to not waste this difficult time is to rename it. (Thank you, Patrick.) I’m making a habit of calling it “COVIDtide.” Sometimes, when speaking out loud, it is easier to just say “pandemic” simply because that is what people are calling it. But even then, in my mind, I am calling it COVIDtide.
“Pandemic” sounds overwhelming and dangerous, scary and deadly. All of which is true, of course. It is those things. And it also sounds hopeless and depressing and lonely. For good reason, I suppose.
But “COVIDtide” is a word brimming with hope. God is still in charge. Hopelessness is set aside.
“The Light (Jesus) was in the darkness–and the darkness (an appropriate metaphor for a pandemic) could not overcome it!” (John 1:5) Do you hear the hope in those words? That is your hope!
You are not alone. Ever. God IS with you. Gently, tenaciously, graciously, unrelentingly transforming your soul for deeper intimacy with your Lord and with others.
How do you live into COVIDtide hope?
How do you immerse yourself in this hope? Here are a few ideas we’ve offered in these devotions over the past months:
You and I have been called to live in COVIDtide. Personally, I think I had a good life without it, but here is it anyway. So what do I do with it? What do you do with it? I vote we find all the bounteous ways our Lord is at work . . .
- Those little touches of love you see each day
- How your self-centeredness is being worn down so your godly self can emerge
- The opportunities you’ve had to deepen your patience . . .
- And your faithfulness
- And your ability to be grateful no matter your circumstances.
This is possible because God is with us in this COVIDtide!
Questions to consider:
- What’s your favorite “tide” or season of the church year?
- How has this season of COVIDtide made you a more faithful person?
- How do your COVIDtide stories say something about your faith?
Rev. Carmala Aderman