Rev. William Bills
September 15, 2021
I was recently conversing with my church financial guru, Jim Doyle. We were chatting about how to carry off some kind of annual ministry funding campaign this fall to insure our solvency for 2022. Jim had a whole list of theme ideas. We tried things like “turning the corner,” “the light at the end of the tunnel” and “a new beginning.” We finally settled on “keeping the faith.” It is probably the case that Jim settled on “keeping the faith.” My idea for moving out of the pandemic era in the church was more akin to “clawing our way out of a deep pit.”
In the Bible, pit is used in both Greek and Hebrew for a variety of, well, holes. More specifically, pit refers to some kind of depression in the earth, either purposefully crafted or naturally occurring. Biblically speaking, a pit is often used to kill or trap someone or something. “The Pit” can be the abode of evil, the home of Satan or the place where the dead dwell. It can also refer to the source of plagues. It is often used metaphorically for the place of death, depression, hopelessness or despair. We sometimes use the word metaphorically even today. In my opinion, this pandemic is the pits. And I really am ready to climb out of this hole!
So Jim has helped me to see that when one has entered the pit, no matter how deep or dark it may be, one must keep the faith. In the grand sweep of history the Christian Church has had many ups and downs. Crusades, plagues, religious wars, non-religious wars for political purposes only, reformations, witch trials, racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, ant-Semitism, slavery. Need I go on? Yet we persist. We continue. The Church is of God and it will be forever. As with so many before us we have descended into the pit and now, scratching and clawing, we are making our way out.
It is much easier to descend than to climb. Going downhill is so doggone easy it’s almost fun. Especially if you like the thrill of speed! I really thought that September 12, 2021 would be the day we said farewell do the Covid pandemic. I believed summer would end, school would start and Covid would be a thing of the past. But it appears that climbing out of this one will be an ongoing slog.
Lest I seem once again the pessimist, I take to heart Jim’s theme idea: I am keeping the faith. The Christian Church has had many highs and many lows over many centuries. And it still persists. Not only does it persist, it thrives. The same can be said for any local congregation. When we finally ascend from the pit, things will look different in the light of a new day. And they will look very good in the post-Covid era. That day will come. Keep the faith.
Rev. William C. Bills
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.