Editorial note: Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center regularly welcomes groups who care for those who are most vulnerable and advocate for justice in our communities. We are grateful for the presence of these groups that are renewed and restored so that they can continue working for justice, peace, and reconciliation. Our hearts and minds are with those groups today. Our hearts and minds are with the family of George Floyd. Our hearts and minds are with those who live in fear daily because of the color of their skin. We stand with those who cry out for justice and healing, because that is where God is found. We hope that the “go-tos” highlighted in today’s post will buoy them, and all of us, up today.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
As we’ve been sheltering in place for over two months now and as we have witnessed the death of George Floyd in recent days, I have had moments of feeling quite stuck – stuck at home, stuck in thought, stuck in grief. The other day, a sermon preached by a wise friend and mentor of mine, Pastor Merv Thompson, about how to survive and thrive during times of distress and trauma popped into my head. In it, he recommended developing some “go-tos” in times like this. “Stay at home” or “safe at home” are more familiar vocabulary words these days, but there are still some “go-tos” to be explored. I pray that these go-tos will bring rest for your souls during the very uncharted journey we are living:
- A Go-to friend: We need someone who will listen to us, who will demonstrate compassion and love, someone who will be a prayer partner for us. If we don’t have a go-to friend, that is what the church is for. Even though we aren’t gathering in a church building right now, the church is the people and the church has many people who will listen to us, who will demonstrate God’s compassion and love, and who will pray for us.
- A Go-to place: There are not too many places that we can safely visit right now, but it’s important to have a solitary place to find peace and solace and listen to the voice of God. It can be a river or a valley, a lake or a forest; a special place in the house or apartment; it can be anywhere that brings re-creation, healing, and beauty.
- A Go-to Bible passage: Resting in go-to Bible passages have been assurances of God’s love and everlasting promises across the ages. There are so many life-giving Scripture verses that it may be hard to choose just one. If you have a hard time choosing a go-to passage, I recommend starting with Psalm 23.
- A Go-to song: It is helpful to have a go-to song that reflects what you are feeling and experiencing right now. When my dad died suddenly two years ago, a friend of mine texted me a song that she had been listening to over and over after suffering a loss in her own life. It became my go-to song in that time of grief as well. It was healing, as it helped to name my deep emotions, moving me from my head to my heart, and bringing me hope.
Our country longs for the day when all people can safely “go to” various places without fear of disease or violence – in-person church services, baseball games, vacation spots, grocery stores, movie theaters, you name it. In the midst of these longings, know that there are still some go-tos that can contribute to healing and refreshment. In fact, they might be some of the most precious gifts that God is giving us for connection, healing and rest.
*Pastor Rebecca C. Freeman serves as Associate Pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church and has co-led retreats like Women’s Weekend and Day Advent Journey at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center. As a Pastor, she enjoys connecting with people of all generations, walking with people on their journey of life, and helping them understand how deeply they are loved.