In our Old Testament story for today, Rebekka met Eliezer at the well, and her entire life changed. It was not unexpected that something like this should happen; she was destined for marriage. Perhaps she hadn’t imagined going quite so far away from home, or that her husband would be a wealthy stranger whom she had never seen before, but she knew she would be married.
I have experienced a couple of complete alterations in life like Rebekka’s. When I adopted two children, everything in my life changed in the blink of an eye. How and when I worked, who my friends became, how I managed my days — all of it was restructured. It was unsettling and lonely, but I had the kids themselves. My whole heart was given over to their care.
The same thing happened when my life partner, Rosean, moved in with me. Again everything changed, this time for my little family as well as for myself. We had Rosean, though, and learning to be in relationship with her was wonderful.
I don’t remember another major life-shift after that until the Covid 19 epidemic came along and changed all of our lives so radically. I still can’t believe we went from worshiping together in relative safety (though we were worried about the common cup and sanitizing our hands) to worshiping remotely via Zoom in about 48 hours. But we did.
Now we see each other on computer screens and at the occasional backyard gathering — in the latter case, socially distanced and wearing masks — and how can you read what somebody is thinking and feeling when they are wearing a mask and sunglasses? We are isolated in this new world. And though we are planning for some in-real-time worship services in future, they will certainly not be very like what we left behind just a couple of months ago. Everything is different.
And yet we have each other. We can give our hearts to one another’s care.
It seems to me that we are called to embrace the change, just as Rebekka did when she accepted the bracelets of her distant, soon-to-be husband. We don’t know what it will be like, what kind of a world we are walking into. But as people of God, courageous people who are called to a distant place we have never seen before, we are asked to step into the new reality with open minds and hearts.
Perhaps because we have more time for it we’ll be able to acknowledge and work on the ailments that have plagued us as a nation for centuries, racism and poverty foremost on that list. Maybe we will have the space to entertain new ideas and to create new ways of addressing issues. Perhaps we will find the grace to support people in a new way, to love in a new way. Maybe we won’t accept the same old logic, the same old answers again.
Like Rebekka we are called to a radical beginning and asked to face it with all the resources at our disposal — all the knowledge, all the wisdom, all the prayer. May it go well for us. May we accept and live into the challenge. May we walk into it with hope, promising to do our best, saying, “I will, with God’s help.” Just as Rebekka did.
Image: Rebekka and Eliezer at the Well; Carlo Maratta / Public domain.