In one of last weeks’ reflections in the United Church’s Lenten study booklet, I was reminded of an important detail of the story of the Israelites escape from slavery in Egypt. When the Pharaoh had totally turned against the Israelites, when death had travelled through the land killing the first born of everything, when they had to gather what they could and run for their lives, the women packed their tambourines. As the Red Sea closed behind them bringing safety, Miriam, Moses’ sister, took out her tambourines and led the song of joy. Their journey wasn’t finished. They still had forty years in the wilderness. Those tambourines were a symbol of hope. I wonder how many times they used them during their trek to the promised land. Maybe they sang when the much needed water poured forth from the rock. Maybe they played their tambourines when the manna floated down from heaven. Those women knew there would be something to celebrate in the future.
Stepping forth in trust is a common Biblical theme, beginning with Abram who gathered his family and possessions to follow God’s instructions and on to Jesus as he called people to follow him.
In this time of Covid 19, we’re being asked to self-isolate for weeks. Many of us are seeing our livelihood disappear as shops and businesses close down and the economy spirals downward. It takes courage to trust, to trust that God will pull good things from this troubled time, to trust that new life will come. We cannot see the whole picture. From our little corner of the world, this is a scary time.
On the internet I’ve been reading that one thing God is bringing from this misery is a Sabbath rest for the earth. As our lives shut down, our pollution of the world shuts down with it. Our children have cried out for the need for healing the earth. “We have to act,” they cried. “Yes, it will hurt, but we have to do it.”
And now, we’re doing it, maybe not willingly, but we are doing it, and our earth is already beginning to heal. Scientists say: In China, where the first cases of coronavirus were detected, a massive decline in pollution and greenhouse gases has now been recorded. Satellite images on NASA’s website show how the decrease in industrial, business and transportation activity between January and February 2020 has reduced the levels of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide first in Wuhan and then across China.”
The Covid 19 crisis is bringing healing to our earth.
I am so grateful that we live in Canada, a country where we care for one another, where peace, not war is the centre of our lives, where our government is offering programs to help us walk this walk. I am so grateful that we are Canadians, a people who tend to put the common good ahead of individual gain. That doesn’t make us special or unique, but it does mean that I can walk through this difficult and frightening time with hope and trust. We can carry our tambourines. The time for singing is now. Thanks be to God.