High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Living Where and When We Are Right Now - in a Pandemic

Hello Dear Friends!

So, this week, we pulled up the spaghetti squash and harvested 7 lovelies. There has been a touch of frost, so we covered the tomatoes twice so far. They’re a little later this year, but the cherry tomatoes are very prolific.


A long time ago around 586 BCE, the prophet Jeremiah wrote these words to those Israelites living as exiles in Babylon: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” (Jeremiah 29:5) In other words, you are going to be there awhile. Make the best of it. Live.


You might see why gardens are on our mind this week and, why Jeremiah is a source of wisdom for us. Living in pandemic times is like being in exile. We are living away from life as we knew it before March 2020. We yearn for those days. We grieve our losses—the things we can’t do, the things that we can’t have, the people we can’t see, the trips we can’t take… it’s a long list of losses. While we haven’t been captured and carted off to a foreign land like the Israelites almost 3 millennia ago, we are living in a changed landscape of physical distancing, closures, face-coverings, not to mention the psychological affects caused by isolation, fatigue and for many of us the feeling of being “zoomed out”. The pandemic is a kind of exile and we are feeling it.


So, how then shall we live? Jeremiah says, build houses, plant gardens, settle in, eat and… eventually for us Albertans, shovel snow. Yes, we need to be safe. Yes, we need to abide by the health measures that serve to help protect us and each other. Yes, what seems like a simple decision actually requires 10 more decisions as we factor in protocols and the like. Yet, Jeremiah provides an encouraging word for us. His invitation is to settle in. While there are many things we can’t do, there ARE many things we can do. So, we adapt. In fact, humans are the planet’s most adaptable creatures. So, let’s do what comes… naturally!


Maybe we have to have some tears. We simply need to welcome the futilities we face, the things we cannot change or fix, and have our sadness about that. Having our tears is key to unlocking our ability to adapt and bounce back. Our tears provide the way forward to our building, our gardening and our eventual snow shoveling as we do our best to simply settle down during the pandemic. We are learning to live in this time of exile. It will not last forever, but it will be with us for some time to come. We are wasting our energy if we think we can magically claim back those pre-pandemic days. We can’t live there. But we can live now.


“For surely”, says God through the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you… plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11) These are clearly extraordinary times. It is so important to remember that we are not alone in this exile-like time where we feel dragged off from all that we once knew into a new landscape. This is our new home for a while. So, we build, we plant, we love, we move through autumn and winter. We live as a people given a future with hope. During this beautiful season of autumn skies and splashes of colour, may we all be comforted by a future with hope and at the same time, give thanks for God’s goodness and rest in God’s loving presence. Indeed, we are not alone. Thanks be to God.


Warmly, in Christ,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.” A. Heschel




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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

(403) 652-3168


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