Among the many things changed by Covid has been my involvement in a choral group that included many music teachers from surrounding communities. We rehearsed weekly in one of the high schools. Last spring as we prepared for our concert the school closed the building to outside personnel like us. Within a week school closed period. In the beginning we had hopes of rescheduling our concert for maybe June. Then September or October. My music still hangs in a bag on a hook ready to grab as I go out the door to rehearsal.
This song is not from last spring’s planned program. It is from an earlier concert, but the text by American abolitionist, James Russel Lowell (1819-1891), has stuck with me. In recent days its meaning seems all the more powerful.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
Compassion and Justice, hand in hand. It is who our God is. Not one or the other, but both together. "Grace and Truth" is how one of his closest friends described him when he came to live with us--Word made flesh, the One and Only come from the Father (John 1:14).
We are living in difficult times. But they are also exciting times. No, I don't expect to see the Kingdom of heaven in its fulness, coming in the next few months, certainly not by political efforts. But I do hope to see Christians standing for compassion, Christians speaking out for justice, Christians living out grace and truth in an age when it is so much easier to sling mud on the Internet.
My husband has been going stir crazy ever since the drought of TV sports began, eager to go somewhere. Anywhere! We cancelled last week's trip to Baltimore to see our daughter and family. In April we intended to return to where we used to live in Brazil for a wedding. We won’t be going. We hadn’t planned a road trip to Montana, but that’s where we went.
In February my mother-in-law flew out to see her daughter’s family an hour south of Seattle for a birthday and a couple concerts. (Hey! This is a musical family. We’re very supportive of one another’s performances.)
When I tried to call the airline Wednesday evening after cases of Covid 19 were reported in our daughter’s county and she knew someone with symptoms, the wait to talk to a person was 4+ hours. I’m an early riser so I figured calling at 6 AM would beat the crowd. Wait time only 2+ hours. But at least I would be awake 2+ hours later, and they have a system where you can leave your number and they call you back. In the end they forgave our non-refundable tickets without question. I’m grateful to Delta Airlines who is no doubt taking a huge hit this week.
So how do we pray in the midst of a situation like this?
I'm an adult figure skater and a major fan of the sport. I loved watching North Korean pair Ryom and Kim skate to a Beatles medley in the recent Olympic games. I cheered for South Korean Choi Da-bin who finished 8th in the ladies competition with a beautiful skate dedicated to her mother who passed away a few months ago. The South Korean short track skaters took home six medals (three gold) and their long track speed skaters added seven more to the country’s medal count. (I shared the ice with dedicated future short track competitors when I skated in Korea last spring.) South Korea was praised for the way the games ran and the beauty of the region. The closing ceremonies highlighted the South Korean love for technology and K-pop.
But now the games are over.
Did you join us in prayer on Wednesday, February 21? Maybe you didn’t choose to fast or dedicate the day to prayer, but I hope you spent some time holding up this broken nation before the God of the Universe.
I watched the morning news with the pause button in hand, so that I could stop and pray about individual news stories. My instinct was to curl up with a bowl of cereal or stick in a piece of toast as I watched; I wasn’t yet hungry enough to remember I was fasting.
I even found myself thanking the Lord for a stand by President Trump. He is calling for strengthening background checks and a ban on accessories that turn legal guns into assault weapons. So common sense that it should be bi-partisan.
I am currently visiting my daughter and her family in Seoul, South Korea. When I called to say good-by to my dad before leaving the US, he said, “I guess you haven’t been watching the news.”
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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