Psalms 14 and 53, the unofficial hymns of April 1st, declare, “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’”
No matter how dire, or inane, or incomprehensible, or unjust, or unrecoverable the situation might seem, it is a fool who tries to keep God’s mercy at bay. God’s Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Advocate, is never too far away.
To paraphrase the Note on the Orders for Burial in the Book of Common Prayer,
Our [faith] … is characterized by joy, in the certainty that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death[, or by distance, or by decree, or by disease …]
We are living through a grievous situation and many separations, yet I find, at least sometimes, that a foolish hope persists.
Yesterday I found myself writing to some friends and strangers, in part,
At the end of [A Family Like Mine], I recall a time when my family first moved overseas, away from everyone we knew and loved. The Sunday before we left, my priest, my friend, sent us to sit in the far corner of the church, using us as a sermon illustration. No matter how far away we found ourselves, he told us and our beloved church family, we would always be connected by the unbreakable bonds of God’s love, the love that had called us together in the first place.
We moved shortly afterwards to Singapore, then back to Britain, then here to Ohio. My father and god-nephew still live thousands of miles away, …[currently self-]isolated from the world. We stay in touch as best we can, and thank God for technology, and hope to God to see one another again. And there it is: our hope is in God, come what may. We will find one another in God again, come what may.
In the meantime, there is a bird making its nest outside the window at home which has become my workplace. It is building a home for its family, in hope, in faith in a future not yet seen. “God’s eye is on the sparrow,” perhaps it has heard. (The kittens are watching it, too.)
May your hope be that of the birds, foolish perhaps, but not in vain.
“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25), and nothing will separate us from the love of God that we have found, and that has bound us together in the body of Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio, a contributing editor at the Episcopal Cafe, and the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, April 2020). Her blog, over the water, is at rosalindhughes.com