James 1:2-3. Common English Bible
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
Tests. Yes. There have been tests galore here lately. But somehow each one has brought joy. Just to name a couple:
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. A day I think about racism and the fight for civil rights and his assassination. When I have to confront my own privilege - again. I read an opinion piece recently the author of which was worried because neighborhoods near a street named for MLK tend to have very high rates of poverty. Well, duh. Why do you think most of those streets were re-named for Dr. King? Because they were in or very near Black communities. But whenever I think about all the different MLK celebrations I have attended, all the church services and scholarship award ceremonies and parades, the singing and the speechifying, I always think about my very favorite MLK Day - the year I was asked to assist the judges for Stepping groups in a parade. I’d never seen Stepping before and was blown away by the joy and exhilaration I was seeing in all the various groups. I had no idea how the judges could choose between them. Since then I have seen Stepping in other parades and celebrations, but also in churches. Wow - talk about energizing worship! Such joy! I get happy just thinking about it.
Covid19. A pandemic. 400,000+ people have already died in the US since the first cases were diagnosed a year ago. We are locked down, stuck at home, isolated from one another, and humans don’t do isolation well. It has tested everything - our medical systems, economic systems, family systems, supply chains. But creativity has blossomed. When we had to stop meeting for worship in person we started figuring out new ways to do that thing Christians have been doing for nearly 2,000 years! We had to build the airplane while flying it! There is such joy in doing these new things, in attending several different worship services in one day, bringing people “into” church who didn’t used to show up for whatever reason before we went online. We learned new ways to include the people we thought of as “homebound” because now ALL of us are homebound! Such joy has come into our lives - in the midst of a pandemic!
Tests are occasions for joy. We can’t always see the joy at the time, but if we are willing to look for it, we can find it.
Loving God, we thank you for the teachers and the learning opportunities you put into our lives. Even though we may not like tests, we know that joy will come with the testing. Help us to keep that in mind even as we go through the difficulties testing can bring. We pray these things through our teacher, Jesus the Christ. Amen.