Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This month marks 1 year since COVID-19 entered our lives. As I share this with you, there have been 505,642 deaths in the United States alone and 2,497,406 deaths worldwide. All of these were beloved children of God and some were our family members, friends, colleagues… they had stories to tell, dreams, and ambitions. They still have names, our collective body grieves their loss, and they will now remain a part of our life’s story.
This story also holds the ways COVID-19 forced us to re-imagine how we function in a world with this invisible and deadly threat, and how we remain and grow as disciples of Jesus who worship together. Neither life nor ministry have taken a pause in the midst of this pandemic. Instead, both have grown in their demands and some would argue that these demands drained their bodies of energy, their minds of sanity, and their spirits of inspired creativity. And yet, here we are. Here we are in the middle of the Lenten season testifying and adding to our personal and collective story of death that leads to resurrection; adding to and actively participating in our personal and collective story of transformation.
On this Lenten journey we’ve invited you to explore Romans 12:1-21. Today, March 1st, we’re invited to meditate on verse 5, “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
We are tied to all God’s beloved creation through our relationship in Christ. We are one body and we are members of one another. How might claiming this truth lead to further transformation in each of us this coming year? How might we be transformed by the renewing of our minds and by waking to the avoidable loss of millions to the triple pandemic we suffer today: a deadly virus, systemic injustice, and a climate crisis? How might we be transformed in our thinking, living, and leading for the sake of co-participating in the transformation of a world in desperate need of unconditional love and healing?
My prayer this day is that we hold this moment in history and these questions near to our hearts; that we wrestle with the invitations and answers that may arise and become inspired by the possibilities; that we sit with the weight and implications of God’s word to us and truly recognize each other as members one of another. Ultimately, I pray we come to believe in our bones that we can lean into the Spirit’s transformative work in us with confidence and courage… with God’s help and in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bishop Leila M. Ortiz