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A Response to “By Gracious Powers”

A reflection offered by First Church Ministerial Intern, Ebony West.

This past Sunday’s sermon brought by Rev. Dan was certainly enriching and wholesome. After worship, members of the congregation had the opportunity to participate in adult education hour discussing the theme and lesson from his sermon. The main takeaway for me dealt with the loneliness Jesus endured while in the desert. The turmoil and temptation that was brought onto him. No human contact by his side as he walks through field after field of nothingness. Without food… and without water… a sacrifice that truly saved humankind. I began to think to myself, if Jesus did not go into this intense season of preparation and endured loneliness, would he have been able to endure the cross in the timing we know today? Something as grand as what Jesus suffered does not just occur, there is a lineup of preparation needed to be carried out in order for God’s Will to come to pass. In fact, the more I ponder on it, the more I realize Jesus’ loneliness and walk in the desert was an example for humankind as we walk through and prepare for not just this Lent season, but the next steps in our lives or trials we endure separately and as a community.

As I was sitting through this sermon and in our adult education hour, I pondered on the start of the pandemic. I was in my senior year of undergrad when the country began to go on lockdown. Our last semester was online, our graduation was canceled, and my very small friend group was split up over time as we drifted away and eventually went to different graduate schools. As someone who is highly extroverted, I was certainly not well! However, I believe and know God allowed my loneliness for a specific and great cause. During my senior year, I was supposed to be in preparation for applying to Harvard Divinity School, applying for a spot as an Army chaplain candidate, while also writing my senior thesis. Before Covid came, I was not on top of the tasks I needed to complete. I was enjoying the social life of being a senior and in a sorority, negating the responsibilities to prepare for my future. When the lockdown started, I was forced to be alone. And I soon realized God was my only true companion in the midst of the madness. I began to submit my applications in a swiftly manner and became closer to God as I walked solely with the Creator. In times of being alone we are to know there will always be our God standing by our side. And in this season of Lent, it is a time of preparation, yes. But let us take the time to truly ask God for what we genuinely need to prepare for.

Ebony West, Ministerial Intern