We are all connected.
Last night my husband and I learned that a professional colleague in India, teaching in a Lutheran seminary in his home state of Faridabad, has contracted the corona virus, along with countless members of his community and family. While news reports of unspeakable Covid-19 sorrows in India—for both the living and the dead—daily shock us, my family can now put a face on the suffering.
We are all connected in suffering.
My neighbors are Pakistani Muslims, among the first home owners on our street, 40 years ago. Ordinarily, during Ramadan, their home is the place where all their friends and family break the daily fast. Ordinarily, during Ramadan, their driveway is filled with cars each evening, their deck overflowing with laughter. But not this year. This year my neighbors break the fast each evening quietly, in the same muted way our Jewish and Christian neighbors celebrated a remote, isolated, quiet Passover and Easter.
We are all connected in celebration.
President Biden’s address to Congress on Wednesday evening connected the dots between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, urban and rural voters, citizens of every hue. He spoke of our common concerns for women and children, for peace and prosperity, for health and safety. Though much divides us as a nation, even more unites us—if only we will put down our weapons and our rhetoric and consider the ways we are connected, rather than the ways we have been dispersed.
We are all connected in citizenship.
On Sunday morning, we will read from Jesus’ Final Discourse (John 15.1-8), in which he names himself “Vine.” “I am the true vine, and you are the branches,” he tells his soon-to-be-abandoned disciples. How will they remain connected, after Jesus is no longer physically present with them? They will bear fruit. They will live for the other. They will curb their own desires to care for the needs of the other. They will stay connected with each other, and all for whom Christ died. Like a branch clings to a vine, that’s how disciples cling to Jesus.
We are all connected in service.
On Sunday morning, after live zoom worship, we will welcome a member of the Northbrook Board of Trustees to our Vitality Talk, to tell us about Northbrook’s recent affordable housing initiative. She comes to us as part of our year-long discussion of racism, and our most recent focus on “Racism: A Chicago Perspective.” While “affordable housing” has been falsely maligned as the certain ruin of our pristine and privileged neighborhoods, it is, in fact, a way to make it possible for the firefighters and police officers and nurses and teachers who work with us to also live with us.
We are all connected in neighborhoods.
After a long, isolated winter, Ascension is inching back toward in-person worship and congregational life. Months ago, our staff and leadership agreed on a set of principles and protocols to guide our deliberations; we agreed to put aside our personal desires and intuitions for the sake of a mission- and data-driven greater good. And though it seems that Covid-19 infections and deaths might be on the decline, the fact that some still contract the virus, that some still suffer and die, affirms our decision to be deliberate. In that cautious-yet-hopeful spirit, we invite you to join us in a first step toward in-person life together, by joining us for “Come as You Are Communion,” every Saturday in May at 4:30 p.m. Please bring a lawn chair, a mask and appropriate weather gear (we will meet rain or shine) to share the Lord’s Supper. I thank you, in advance, for respecting and understanding our cautions and our precautions. Our necessary distance from one another has been both burden and blessing for us all.
We are all connected in communion.
With Covid-sufferers world-wide, with neighbors across the street, with citizens across the aisle, as a branch is to a vine, we are all connected. As Jesus told his disciples on the night before his crucifixion, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
It is still true. Apart from Christ and his mission to love, to serve, to die for the other, we are Nothing. Instead, connected in and through Christ, we are Something. Something Faithful. Something Kind. Something Hopeful. Something Fruitful.
We are all connected.
Pastor JoAnn Post