Stained glass image of an hourglass with wings
Photo: Colin Winterbottom

The radical, unlimited love of the new times

In mid-March 2020, the New York City area locked down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, the nation mourns over 500,000 souls lost, families are devastated, kids and parents struggle with remote schooling, businesses have gone under, and poverty has soared.

While there are glimpses of hope, we are indeed in the wilderness longing for what we have lost and praying for the return of what we had before. Like the Israelites in Sunday’s reading from Numbers, we are struggling and impatient. We want to go back to the “before times.”

But changes we do not choose demand changes we must choose. For the Israelites, the exodus from slavery into the wilderness meant fleeing the before times of bondage and oppression into the wilderness of the completely unknown — the “new times.” As they did, they struggled to trust in the steadfastness of God and uphold their part of covenant: to do justice and follow God’s law. For us, we struggle not only with what has been lost, but what has been revealed.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus continues to reveal and challenge. Just before this passage in chapter 3, Jesus explains to Nicodemus — a Pharisee and religious leader — that he must be “born again.” When Nicodemus asks how this can be, Jesus reveals that God loves the world not just certain people. He describes a radical, unlimited love of new times ushered in by the beloved reign of God. And this is encounter, Jesus challenges Nicodemus to see and live outside the limited understanding of his world.

This pandemic time has revealed what many of us chose not to see in the before times — injustice, inequity, and poverty. As the saying goes, now we “can’t not see it.” Too much has been revealed to go “back to normal.” As people of faith and followers of Jesus, we are called to see and live outside of the confines of the before times and step into God’s radical, unlimited love.

Ruth Frey

Director, Community Program and Public Life
Faith Formation and Education

Children’s Time

Sundays at 10am

Join us for Children’s Time on Zoom. We’ll start with a brief opening assembly together and then, each week, children can choose from two different breakout groups.

Godly Play (Preschool and older)
Story: The Faces of Easter 4
Response Time: Drawing and collage materials

Whole People of God (2nd Grade and older)
Lesson Theme: God’s Time
Activities: Journey maps and clocks. Bring paper or a plain paper plate and writing/drawing implements. 

Register to join on Zoom, if you haven’t already.


Psalm for the Wilderness
Sundays at 10am

The Season of Lent leads us through changing, and sometimes challenging, spiritual landscapes. Through the close examination of several beautiful and beloved examples, this Bible study will consider how the superlative Hebrew poetry of the Psalms might accompany us and enrich our journeys. For the first four Sundays of Lent, join Mother Beth Blunt and Summerlee Staten, Executive Director of Faith Formation & Education, in exploring the nature, history, and import of this pivotal collection. During the last week, parishioner and poet Chester Johnson will discuss his work on the drafting committee for the retranslation of the Psalms contained in the current Book of Common Prayer.

Learn more and register to join.

Spiritual Resources