In like a lion, out like a lamb. Grew up with this expression, describing the month of March. Could it apply to the entire year? 2021 sure came in with a roar!

A surging pandemic and political unrest! So much chaos! How do we respond? Hard not to just hunker down and pray we get through. And actually, both of those actions are very appropriate for the moment. Isolate, keep interactions to a minimum, keep social distancing, wear our masks. Much as we are tired of doing so, we need to continue all these practices to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, even as we roll out the vaccine. And Pray! For health, for recovery, for peace, for reconciliation, for so much more.

We grieve the loss of “the way things used to be”. We want to be back together again, for church, for gatherings of friends and family, for meals out, for concerts and plays. So much is on hold right now. What will we be able to gain back over the year? What may never be quite the same? To be sure, we have learned many new ways to be in community. Zoom for church and small groups, even family reunions. Seeing more of our neighbors out for walks. Lots of new puppies! Some of us have taken up new hobbies or pulled out old ones we now find time to reexplore.

As 2020 came to a close, the hope and expectation was that 2021 would be better. We want to be done with the pandemic, done with the elections, done with unrest. But 2020 revealed so many ugly truths about us, so much we need to repair.

So, what do we do this year? Take time for self-care, not just for ourselves and our families, but for our communities, to safely get through the year. Roll up our sleeves, not just to get the vaccine. We have hard work to do, to repair broken unjust systems of inequity. Work on bringing peace and reconciliation into our world. Work on damage done to our planet, God’s beautiful creation. And pray! We can’t do this without God’s help and guidance.

It’s a sobering start to a new year, to be sure. In like a lion. May it go out like a lamb, the Lamb of God, with more peace and justice and love!

Karen McElfish
Arlington District Lay Leader