Notes from the Pastor – March 2023

Do you ever feel that the hate is just too much to keep up with?

I know I have been feeling very heavy-hearted lately, watching the systematic efforts of anti-LGBTQ groups and individuals to chip away at our hard-won rights and make queer and trans people feel unsafe and unwanted, here in Montana and across the country. Every day it feels like there is something new, whether it is in the legislature or the pulpit, that seeks to diminish the joy that comes from being one’s true self and feeling free to express that.

It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to watch indigenous rights be eroded. It’s exhausting to watch white supremacy dig its claws deeper in the fabric of our nation as more people become conscious of the realities of racism. It’s exhausting to see reproductive autonomy subject to the whims of lawmakers who don’t understand the complex medical realities of abortion and reproductive care.

I’m exhausted.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe despair not only feels hard to resist, but actually feels like the only reasonable response to the way things are.

But that is why we need Lent.

We may be a resurrection people, but in times like these, that Easter morning feels as far away as can be. Lent is a way for us to journey—with Christ and one another—through the “valley of the shadow of death.” That’s why in our Faith Formation classes, we have been looking at the lives of saints who lived in dark and despairing times, and why in worship we’ve been looking at how Jesus faced adversity in his ministry.

Easter does await us, but it is good to acknowledge how hard things are in the meantime. The knowledge of resurrection did not relieve Jesus of the anguish he felt leading up to his death, but his experience of suffering reminds us that the commonwealth of heaven will not be hindered by the machinations of empire, and we are called to faithfulness even, especially, when it is most difficult.

Yours in the ashes,

Pastor Stephen.