Recipe for Desperate Times
The king commanded all the people, “Keep the passover to the Lord your God as prescribed in this book of the covenant.” No such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem. – 2 Kings 23:21-23
We gathered out of desperation, because we did not know what else to do. The news was bad, and getting worse. We could not see a way forward. The damage we had kept locked inside for so many years had come seeping out in ways that felt dangerous, debilitating.
So, one evening we came together. We sat in a circle of chairs. We sang an old song and a new one. We heard laments and stories about strong women and a fable that made us, unexpectedly, laugh. We lit candles. We dipped our fingers in a bowl of water. We prayed. And then someone found some leftover cupcakes covered in orange frosting, so we ate. The times are still desperate, but we are navigating better now.
It was desperate times for King Josiah’s people, and because he did not know what else to do, he reminded them of the simplicity and strength of the rituals of their ancestors. Josiah’s resurrected passover was different than our little ritual, but it was also the same. Circle. Song. Scripture. Fire. Water. Prayer. Food shared.
Now, as then, these things do not make desperate times less desperate, but they do shine a light so we can see a path through them.
Dear God – Give us circles, song, scriptures, fire, water, prayers and food shared in your Name. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.