A couple of weeks ago I noted that positivity rates In Yellowstone County had started to climb again. Fortunately, they stopped and reversed course. I heard a report that noted the (thankfully) dropping number of cases around the United States were due to three factors. The first was the numbers of people receiving vaccinations to date. The second was the natural immunity gained by those who had survived Covid. The third was the movement of activities to the outdoors as weather warmed up. I will say this much, having experienced both forms of immunity, vaccination and survival, I would choose the vaccination. Even a mild and brief case as I experienced, is not pleasant and does have lingering effects. As to the third factor, I will always welcome warmer weather!

As we begin to emerge from these last 14 months, I am hearing folks begin to process the lessons and feelings from what has felt like a lost year for many. People have disclosed feelings of grief, relief, sadness, gratitude, and a cautious joy as they venture out again. For many there is some lingering depression, fear, and uncertainty regarding what lies ahead. There is a desire to grasp hold of a sense of hope for the future. Yet, uncertainty as to how one does that.

I have been reading a book by Mark Manson (the main title I will not note, as it would not allow me to send this email through our IT filters) whose subtitle is “A Book about Hope”. He notes three things as necessary “to build and maintain hope”. 1) A sense of control in our own life, feeling like “we can affect our fate”. 2) A belief in the “value of something important enough to work toward”. 3) A community, feeling like we are part of a group that values the same things we do, and “is working towards achieving those things”.

The last 14 months has certainly altered our sense of #1, what our level of control actually is. The pandemic may have reshaped our sense of what is important (#2 our values). In addition, we may be in the process of seeking out a community that shares our shift in values. No wonder our sense of hope might feel disrupted or lost! It is important to acknowledge that much has changed. We are still going through extraordinary social and political upheaval. No matter what your media source is, it is clear how divided things are. It is hard to name an institution within society that holds respect by a majority of us anymore.

It strikes me that we have arrived at a point where it has become necessary for us to decide to both choose and create hope. Hope will not emerge in the face of division and fear. If the value we are carrying does not embrace the whole diversity of humanity, we need to remove it. If the community we associate ourselves with does not value the whole diversity of humanity, we need to find a community that does. In that community, we will find a hope that lifts us all. In that community, one can find the strength to face a new and unfolding future. If such hope is not where you can see and find it, work at creating it. Others are looking to find it. We will find each other. This is my abiding hope.


Pastor Karl