God’s got us

September 2, 2021 by Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort

On Mondays, I brave the day and sit with church folk in our courtyard. It’s been a regular practice–one hour each Monday, sign up through Calendly, and for a while it was on Zoom, but since COVID restrictions lifted in the spring, we’ve met in person, and it’s lovely. We sit for a time to chat and catch up, and I ask how I can be in prayer for them, and what we can do to support them. In the midst of the heat and humidity that is August, I feel fairly heroic.

But I am now desperate for fall’s arrival with its gifts of cool breezes and crisp, blue skies. We’ve been in this new call for a little over a year, and I’m reminded by the locals that there will still be a few hot days to come in October. I almost can’t remember what days without crushing humidity feel like, and I long for it to dissipate on the wings of those birds that are already migrating south. How long, O Lord?

I’ve been yearning for much these days, in particular, for the time when we will move through this ordinary season in ordinary ways, that is, without having to carry the extraordinary amount of exhaustion, anxiety, uncertainty in regular, daily life. And this, on top of all that is going on in the world–from hurricanes to wars to flooding to fires, and the constant vigilance of keeping COVID at bay in our communities. Our young kids are doing what they can to maintain their mental sanity and their physical stamina–we’ve (they’ve) played many soccer and basketball games.

As a church community, like so many, we have gathered together in worship now for a few months– for us, 15 Sundays, to be exact. After several months of worshipping on Zoom or pre-recording services, it has been a relief. There’s an us, finally. A light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not perfect — we took reservations for about a month, and there are pews roped off to encourage social distancing, and now we are back yet again to being masked indoors. But it’s not only the inexplicable peace, and comfort, that I feel when gathered with the body of Christ around Word and sacrament, but it is also the quickening of fire, in my mind, in my belly. I feel that pull towards deeper life and love, a shimmering of the possible kingdom-come in our very midst. I witness with gratitude even in the most ordinary moments those glimpses of utter grace, of life abundant.

I think others feel the same, too. It’s more than just being together, being with people we know and who know us, but the physical, in the flesh and blood experience of God’s presence in the midst of that gathering. To be with others as we sing hymns and say prayers–this work does something important and sometimes inexplicable to our bodies, our hearts, minds, and spirits. We carry into the space all of who we are and when we do it’s like being collectively held. It changes us. It’s like a little nudge. I know our old folks need it. I know our singles need it. I know our families and kids and youth need it.

Because even in the midst of what seems like a scarcity, we also need the reminder that there is more to these days–more life and more grace, more hunger and more sorrow, and the promise that God will provide more of God’s self to us, in us and through us.

“There is always the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for years on end. It is all so self-conscious, so apparently moral…But I won't have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous…more extravagant and bright. We are …raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.”― Annie Dillard

There’s always more. I preached yesterday: Some of us present today may feel like we are drowning — for some it’s the feeling that the pandemic seems to have no end in sight, for others it’s dealing with a cancer diagnosis for ourselves or for loved ones, for others it’s struggling with mental health or chronic illness, for others it’s the death of a loved one, for others it’s being the primary caregiver for someone– whether children or aging parent, for others, it’s loneliness or isolation or depression or  worry and just trying to keep up with everything — to try stay afloat.

But, this is the God we worship and follow — the one who isn’t content to one-and-done us, but who is with us everywhere, all the time, in every place, the one who wants us to live, and granted, some days that living will look like hanging on by our fingernails and other days it will look like showing up to pack food for the shelters and other days it will look like sleeping in and still other days it will look like being up in the middle of the night at the emergency room. This is why we need the in-breaking of Our Wild God in the world. Remember at the beginning of Mark, the writer opens with God literally ripping apart the heavens.  From the jump, Mark gives us a lesson of the kind of kingdom God plans on for us — where there are no borders — between people, between spaces, between all that we do in this life, between God and us.

God’s got us.

Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort is co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis, Maryland along with her spouse Rev. Andrew Kort. She has written and published for various venues, including Time Magazine, Huffington Post, Christian Century, and Sojourners, and she is the author of Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith (Fortress Press, 2018) and co-author with Andrew of Yoked: Stories of a Clergy Couple in Marriage, Family, and Ministry (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014). Previously, Kim-Kort has served as associate pastor for College Hill Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pa. (2006-2011), and United Presbyterian Church in Flanders, N.J. (2005-2006). She was director and co-founder of the UKirk Campus Ministry program at Indiana University from 2012-2017.