During 2005, torrential rains battered California, leading to massive floods and mudslides that did billions of dollars in damage and took a toll on human life, as well. But in nearby Death Valley, instead of death and destruction, the rain brought new and unexpected life. Death Valley’s name is well deserved because it is one of the least hospitable environments in North America. Death Valley normally sees an average of two inches of rain in a year. But that year was anything but average. That winter brought six inches of rain there. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. The biggest surprise came when wildflower seeds that had been hibernating in the arid soil for years suddenly bloomed, turning the lifeless sand of the desert into a living carpet of color. In a God-forsaken place with a reputation for death, vibrant life had been lurking underfoot all along without our being aware of it, and where we would least have expected it. And the rain that had been so destructive and deadly in other areas became a source of life—and even a kind of resurrection–in Death Valley.
In 2020 (and into 2021) the COVID pandemic has crippled global economies and registered staggering levels of death and illness. Through it all, churches have been forced to adapt new ways of maintaining community and keeping faith. Easter reminds us that resurrection is the heart of our faith. But resurrection means more than the return of what was. It is the rebirth of something new and unexpected. As the “Superbloom” of 2005 brought stunning new life out of catastrophic events beyond human control, we have reason to hope that God is rebirthing something life-giving and unprecedented in the Church. Because we believe that “resurrection happens”, may we confidently pray for an eventual regathering in community that will be more than a return to what has been. Let us embrace a vision and a holy expectancy that God is calling us out of the losses we have endured, to be the Church in new and better ways than ever before.
Grace and Peace,