Have you ever given much thought to the word ‘and’?
We use it frequently. It is one of the first words you learn to read as a kindergartener. It makes an appearance in so many sentences and phrases, it would be nearly impossible to count the frequency of its usage.
But have you ever thought about the great gift that the word ‘and’ can be? It means the story isn’t over, and the work isn’t done. And the word reminds us that maybe, just maybe, there is a little hope on the other side of that dramatic pause. . .
As a child and a teenager, I internally chafed every time I had to pick between ONE thing and another. I would think to myself. . .”but do I really have to pick just ONE favorite color? But I like pink & purple & green & red & yellow. . . “ No one ever gave me the option to pick more than one favorite color. I’m sure if I voiced my thought, it would have been met with grace and space to expand my thoughts. But I didn’t, and as a result, I’m afraid it was years before I realized that “and” is not only okay, but is perhaps a more faithful way to really live, especially as people of faith.
You see, this kind of thinking bled into my understanding of the life of faith, of how to determine God’s will for one’s own life. And I struggled for years with the idea that there was only ONE way for me to be faithful to God with my life, and I was terrified that I was going to pick the wrong path. But what if there are many ways for us to follow God, with many different paths? What if there are less “either/ors” & way more “both/ands” than I was ever given space to dream about?
God’s holy ‘and’ is a concept we’ll be considering this Lenten season. You’ll see it pop up in our worship services in both words and visuals. “The ampersand emphasizes God’s holy ‘and’. When we become weary from the motion blur chaos of our lives, God promises that there is always more to the story- death does not have the last word.”
As for now, we are in the cold season of winter, where we are starting to wonder if warmth and sunshine will ever find us again. The winter season mirrors the internal journey we are on during the wilderness Lenten season, which is meant to make space for introspection, for listening to the still, small voice of God, and for repentance.
God’s holy ‘and’ makes the space for us to remember that we are simultaneously the sinners AND the forgiven. The remorseful AND the hopeful. The repentant AND the beloved children of God. Those who are tired of winter AND those who hope for the new life just ahead.
Let’s listen for God’s holy ‘and’ in the weeks ahead, friends.
Again & again & again.
Rev. Lisa Williams Hood