Exploring Faith and Community • Macalester Plymouth United Church
April 20, 2020
Rev. Corinne Freedman Ellis
We are fond of the expression for this period of time, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” As a staff, we’ve been talking a lot about sustainability, not just in work but in life. Now that we’ve made it out of the crisis sprint, now that we know we’re in this for some type of long haul, how can we create rhythms that we can maintain over an extended period of time?
As someone who has trained for and run a (very, very slow) marathon, I think this is a lot harder. As someone said to me recently, with a marathon you know when it’s going to end. You also know exactly what you’ve been training for. This time of social distancing, of being apart and living with the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic, does not have a clear end. We don’t know what to expect. And we haven’t explicitly trained for it.
But one of the things I’m realizing is that in fact, we have trained for it. Our faith, in many ways, helps us to train our spirits for enduring difficult things.
As we celebrated Easter together last Sunday, we started a 50-day Eastertide journey, a season when we remember that love is stronger than hate and life is stronger than death. We have practice finding what can be resurrected from what looks dead and barren.
As we find new ways to gather, we remember that we have deep relationships with one another, and that growing in those relationships is still possible in this strange time. We have practice being community and we are adaptable in the midst of it.
As we prepare for whatever lies ahead, we remember the stories of our faith that tell of deliverance. The promise God made to Abraham and Sarah to sustain them and their descendants. The exodus of the Israelite people out of Egypt. The delightful, confounding reversals of Jesus’s parables. The unlikely and imperfect and beautiful creation of the early church. Of course, the resurrection. We have practice telling our stories to give us strength and resilience.
When I was at mile 23 of the marathon I ran, I was about ready to quit. My sister reminded me of all the training we’d done and told me that of course I could do it – this was what we’d prepared for. Friends, I don’t know what mile of our marathon we’ve reached, or how far we have yet to go. But whenever you feel like quitting, remember – this is what we’ve prepared for, and we can do it together.