Time Enough

Time Enough

Dear Friends,

8 minutes and 46 seconds is a long time.

I was unable to join the Black Lives Matter Protest in Northbrook on Monday afternoon, but I did pause at 4 p.m., when it began, to mark the moment. And because if I had knelt that long I would have had to call a crane to lift me from the floor, I sat. In our safe sanctuary, with the afternoon sun streaming across the floor. I set the timer on my phone to keep track of the time, and had to force myself, again and again, to stay focused on the reason for my silence. It was least I could do, to sit silently and remember George Floyd’s last minutes. To remember all the lives—particularly black lives—taken by force. It felt like forever.

Even though we have known for decades, if not centuries, that our country is wildly divided by race, there is, suddenly, an urgency to this moment. The inequities and injustices we have been able to justify to ourselves, are no longer justifiable.  And all it took was 8 minutes and 46 seconds?

The church is officially in the time we call “Ordinary.” Not because it is typical or dull, but because this summer we count time with “ordinal numbers,” in order, by the Sundays after Pentecost. Sunday is, therefore, the Second Sunday after Pentecost, and marks our return to our regularly scheduled programming—the gospel of Matthew.

Previously in Matthew’s gospel, while we were occupied with Lent and Easter, Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) and performed a series of ten rapid-fire miracles (chapters 8-9). Now, as he pauses to take a breath and look ahead down the road, he realizes that the work ahead of him is far more challenging than the work behind him. Was it a punch in the gut? A weight on his shoulders? A moment of regret? A budding opportunity? We don’t know. But we know that Jesus suddenly realized he could not do it alone. (Matthew 9.35-10.8)

With the urgency of a coach calling plays, Jesus huddled the disciples and sent them. “Go. Now.” And he gave them very specific tasks: “Proclaim the good news. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”

Though the world has been overrun with sickness and death and disease and evil for millennia, suddenly the world’s sorrow overwhelmed even Jesus, and he could wait no longer.

8 minutes and 46 seconds is a long time.

It is never easy to rise from our regular lives to take action against evil. Whether that injustice occurs in our home, neighborhood, congregation or country, we always find excuses to put it off a little longer. The Covid Curtain has only added to our lethargy, making even ordinary tasks feel burdensome, and advocacy for others a weight even Hercules could not lift.

On Sunday, we will share the weight of that heavy lift, as together we mark a new commemoration in the ELCA: “Commemoration of the Emmanuel Nine, Martyrs.” Though the commemoration day is June 17, we want to include it in our Sunday worship, at the time when we are all together. (We will share more information on Sunday for your own observance.)

Soon, our Congregation Council will be inviting you to join a special project with Holy Family School, a long-time ministry partner of Ascension, and a community caught in the cross-hairs of poverty, violence, food insecurity and virus. We cannot address all the world’s ills, but we can join hands and hearts with ministry partners who have enriched our lives, and who challenge us to be more faithful disciples.

There is no time to waste. As Jesus shooed his disciples off to change the world one kindness at a time, he told them, “The harvest will not wait. The workers are few. Go.” It is still true.

And if you have not paused for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, I urge you to do so. Sit. Kneel. Stand. The posture is not as important as the act. It took that long to take a life. Perhaps it will be time enough to change one, as well.

“See” you Sunday,

Pastor JoAnn Post







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