They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed – Psalm 107:26-29
At the Feb. 26 start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, many people were filling the churches to receive ashes with little fear or global anxiety as regards the cases and spread of the coronavirus. At that point, there were many people arriving at airports mostly from China and Italy and especially from those who had been on a cruise ship. Towards the middle of this Lent, it is very clear that 2020 Lent may not be normal or business as usual. Many churches ‘had urged parishes to curtail hand-shaking at the sign of peace and Communion from the chalice … and that list continues to grow as a nation is advised to stay at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus. And now, with many public places shuttered and a country practising its new term of self-distancing, the sense of quarantine… is very real.’
However, Lent of Remembering points us to the missional and ‘the penitential qualities tied to this health crisis — suffering, giving up and solitude — are in fact symbolic of Lent’s spiritual practice of self-denial. Even the very word, quarantine, means about 40, in French, and its Latin origin, “quadraginta,” is the root of Latin words for Lent.’ Beyond comparing the notion of quarantine or self isolation to Jesus’s 40 days in the desert and the 40 days of Lent, Lent of Remembering in overcoming and preventing the spread of coronavirus calls us to ‘a period of retreat with extra time for prayer or spiritual reading … we now have extra time to spend in prayer each day — prayer that is sorely needed to seek eternal repose for the dead, to remember those who are sick and living in great fear, our health care workers who remain on the front lines of this disease, and for one another.”
Lent of Remembering warns us that we may never again have a Lenten season that affords us so much time and opportunity personally, as a church and as a nation to repent and surrender everything to the Lord. I believe God is calling us to ‘use this time wisely and well, … we now have extra time to spend in prayer each day — prayer that is sorely needed to seek eternal repose for the dead, to remember those who are sick and living in great fear, our health care workers who remain on the front lines of this disease, and for one another.’
The Good News for us in such a time as this is that God understands the situation more than you and I think. God has promised deliverance from all our troubles, including the current pandemic, it shall come to pass in Jesus mighty name (Ps 107:26-29).
Prayer: O Lord, we claim Your promise to deliver us from all our troubles. In repentance, we declare, this yoke of coronavirus shall come to pass in Jesus name.