PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
5th Sunday after Pentecost yr. A, July 5, 2020
New Covenant, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“A Letter to God: Dear God, What the…Heck?”
What the heck?
For crying out loud, we already knew that 2020 was gonna be a tough year for our nation. There was already political strife, which of course gets amplified in a Presidential election year.
On top of that, we knew that this was going to be a tough year for our congregation. We were going to have to begin preparing to deal with some changes and likely some tough, long-range financial decisions involving staff and the ministries that we love .
Plus, we knew that this was going to be another spring and summer of dealing with the inconveniences and interruptions due to phase 2 of the Third St. construction project.
But then, we found out that a hate-group wanted to rally in one of our city parks. And then, then the pandemic hit and there was all the uncertainty and the confusion and the tremendous losses that came along with it.
The losses of life. The loss of businesses, jobs and incomes. The loss of being able to go where we want…when we want and to see who we want. The loss of Easter Egg hunts and those once in a lifetime significant events like senior proms and graduations. Then, then there was the wait, the wait to say goodbye to our friends, Doris and Ron.
We tried to do our best to carry-on. But often times we felt like we were stuck in the middle and were gonna be darned if we did and darned if we didn’t.
We set things up virtually, made phone calls, sent emails and text messages, posted things to facebook and the website and did extra mailings.
Yet, despite our best efforts to be perfect, to get everything right and to meet everyone’s needs, we inevitably we fell short. Something always seemed to get missed or forgotten. And when we messed-up, we took our mistakes and the criticism personally. We felt bad that we let those who we care about down. It was hard to extend ourselves grace. We blamed ourselves for not being good enough or doing a better job.
Then, just when things seemed like they might be starting to turn the corner and get a little better, we heard the cries for justice and the calls for an end to the systemic racism that continues to plague our nation. For far too long, we’ve chosen to ignore, to turn our heads, to close our eyes, to sweep under the rug and deny the inequalities, the oppression, the fear and the pain that exists and that our sisters and brothers of color must deal with each and every day.
We should’ve addressed these issues decades ago but because we didn’t, we must address them now.
Oh, and if that’s not enough grief and enough loss and enough pain and enough heartache for one year, in just six months, then we learn that our beloved church camp has become too expensive to operate and needs to be put up for sale.
What’s next God? A plague of locusts? Oh that’s right, there’s a swarm of them out there somewhere too.
What the heck God? For crying out loud. Enough’s enough.
And so, here I am. Here we are. We come before you this morning, with all of our pain, with all of our anger, with all of our fears and our sadness and our frustrations and our anxieties and our impatience and our weariness and our exhaustion to say, these burdens are weighing heavily upon us. We are struggling mightily.
We read your Son’s consoling and comforting words this morning, “Come to me, all of you who are struggling mightily and carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble and you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We hear these words and we accept his invitation to give us rest and to help us shoulder the load.
We understand this isn’t a promise that our troubles will disappear or that life will be easy. But, we acknowledge that the yoke is too heavy for us to carry alone and so we humbly come before you this day seeking the rest and relief that your Son has offered us. Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.