Our timing is really off this time. I proposed to my now fiancee just as word about a flu-like virus was ravaging Wuhan in China. It was just a few weeks later everything started getting serious in the States. And then the shut down. It was a bad time for this to happen. There were so many events to look forward to. We had Holy Week, Easter, Earth Day, Graduations, and the Annual Conference had appointment week. The United Methodist Church postponed it’s General Conference. And we decided to plan a wedding. Really, it is nothing unusual. There is never a good time that is completely free of distraction. But there are always good times for love.
Jesus Was Crucified At An Inconvenient Time.
The Gospel of John gives us an intriguing idea. Problems needs solutions. But there are such inconvenient times to solve them. “Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed.” (19:31) I know the verse is a reason given so that the writer can claim it was fulfillment of prophecy that Jesus’ bones not be broken. But it is interesting that there is an urgency involved in making sure a form of holiness is preserved even if cruelty must be involved.
Funerals always come at inconvenient times. It may be what makes them tragedies. A young woman once came to her pastor to ask that the Easter service include prayers for some of her schoolmates who were killed in a terrible accident over the weekend. The pastor refused saying it would distract from the message and what the congregation wanted to experience.
The truth is that we never know what the future will bring. Despite all the plans we can make there are things beyond our control. It will rain on the planned outdoor activity. A non-fatal accident at home will annoy us and keep us out of the event. A sudden illness will happen during Christmas. We may scream to the heavens. We might curse our luck. Whatever happens, we have to learn to accept it.
Annoyances will occur. But some things will take precedence over our plans. Our wedding may not happen just as we hope it will. One of us is waiting the results from a COVID-19 test at this writing. It’s an inconvenient time. If need be our health will take precedence over our plan.
It is easy to whine, “not now!” It is a sign of sober thinking to try to be serene any way.
The pastor who didn’t want to interrupt Easter by reflecting soberly over something the congregation knew happened shows how unloving our holy day practices are. Another pastor embarrassed a friend of mine who did not stand to be acknowledged on Father’s Day. Why didn’t he stand? He had fathered children who were all miscarried. My friend did not think that was the point of honoring fathers on that day. Technically, he was a father. But he never raised the children.
Trying times test our resolve. What has this pandemic been but a time where we could demonstrate love, charity, and kindness to others? Refusing to act in love gives the lie to all of our celebrations, observances, and declarations of love. The point of worship, prayer, teaching, and preaching during “good times” is to prepare us for the hard times and difficult decisions to be made.
We are going ahead with the wedding. The invitations are in the mail. Other preparations are being made. And everything else is happening too. How we respond will tell more about our resolve than vows, rings, venues, and flowers. It is the same for the church. How we respond tells more than our good intentions can cover.