line.orange.700Hope, Joy And Love In A Time Of CrisisHope, Joy And Love In A Time Of Crisis   
This year sucked! No doubt about it. Not many of us (apart from old folks who have come from foreign countries and have seen hunger, revolutions, misery, and persecution from unjust governments) have gone through a time of crisis like this one.


The last pandemic was in 1918. That’s a long time ago, and usually we brush over these types of historic events like we do over World War I, II, the Armenian genocide, Hiroshima or even the Vietnam War: That’s just history, far back in time, and make good stories from our grandpa while we discuss whether Carl’s Jr. is better than In & Out.
But this Covid-19 epidemic brings misery closer to home. Since March of this year, weekly horror stories flood our screen and inboxes: A virus is taking over the world, and its effects seep into our neighborhoods, overwhelms our health care system, imprisons us at home in lock down mandated by our local governments, closes our shops and restaurants, floods our hospitals and suddenly people we know, and even ourselves, are affected, infected, and people die. Schools are closed, no graduations, Zoom replaces hugs, no sports (boy do I miss coaching and reffing my boys with AYSO), wearing masks and staying home playing endless video games. We thought it would be a matter of weeks until this was over, but almost a year later, the reality has settled in. We are in for the long haul, and even the long awaited vaccine release will not bring quick relief from the pandemic. Who could have imagined this a year ago? Not me.
So how do we deal with this? Do we succumb to depression, sadness and bitterness?
It is in times of crisis when essential and existential aspects of life surface. We have time to think, if we let our emotions come to the surface and our thoughts run free.
As a pastor, I am asked existential questions all the time: Is there hope? Is there a God? A higher power? Is there purpose in my life? Why am I here? Why is there suffering in the world when God is supposed to be good and all-powerful?
Now, I won’t have time and space to talk about all these questions. But as a Christian pastor reflecting on the season that we are living, I can tell you: Yes, there is hope! Yes, there is joy. Yes, there is love!
First, there is hope. As humans, we are made in the blueprint of God; we are designed to be compassionate. Paradoxically it is in times of crisis when the best in people surfaces. We help out. We care for our neighbor. We make sure that the people we love are ok, as best as we can manage. We donate, we call, we worry about the other. It is when the internet and the electricity is out, that we turn away from our individual screens and start talking to each other. So don’t miss this time of crisis to find out who you are and who your neighbor is.
Second, there is joy. As human beings, we always have a choice, even in the midst of a crisis. We can choose our thoughts and attitudes. We cannot choose our circumstances, but we can choose how to respond to them. We can choose to answer a harsh comment with a conciliatory response. We can choose to see the glass half full and not half empty. We can count our blessings instead of the bad stuff. I am alive! I can breathe! I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I have….(fill in the blank). Be grateful for what you have and rejoice. You live in California and don’t know what wearing a heavy winter coat or rain gear feels like. Share joy with those that are around you. A smile goes a long way!
And third, there is love. Love has no boundaries. Last week I officiated a wedding on Zoom. People from three continents who would not have been able to assist the physical wedding showered the married couple with love and affection. The Zoom room was filled with laughter. Love has no boundaries. Love is doing something for the one you love. Covid 19 cannot stop your expression of love. Give it! Share it! As we enter this Christmas season, it reminds me of the reason Jesus came into the world: To express, demonstrate and share his love with the people he loves (Assignment: Read John 3:16 in the Bible, and yes, you can Google it…).
Faith in something or somebody who is bigger than us is essential for giving us purpose and meaning…but that would be for another article.
As this year comes to an end, I want to encourage everyone here reading and supporting the Peninsula Panorama to keep up Hope, share Joy and express Love. Let’s enter the New Year with the attitude that life is good and the expectancy that it will get better!
Merry Christmas and a Happy (and better) New Year 2021

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