5th Sunday of Lent – March 21

Digital Version of Devotional

Author Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Reflection: v.34 ‘for they shall all know me’

This season of ministry has been challenging for me. On my best days, I believe I am a good pastor. I love human beings in all their messy complexities. I love listening, learning others’ stories, and building relationships. But in this season of ministry the patient practice of getting to know someone is more difficult. There are so many other things of which to be mindful and cautious, and so much extra work to do, so many new people, that it is hard to make time or space in my brain and my heart to learn and love more human beings. That is how it was when I first met John. John was new to our community and had started coming around, like many, after the pandemic began. I did not know John’s name but knew him as the man who could never seem to wear his mask properly.

What I perceived as his negligence frustrated me to no end. I hate nagging people about their masks, but am daily forced to persistently and consistently remind, remind, remind people to ‘please pull up your mask.’ One day after reminding John for the third time, I realized I did not even know the name of this man who was frustrating me so. I asked. He seemed pleased that I did. A few weeks later John came through our clothing closet, his mask perfectly in place. I addressed him by name and he halted and looked at me with surprise. ‘How do you know my name?’ he asked me. I reminded him that I had asked him a few weeks ago. ‘And you remembered?’ I laughed and responded that I did. He laughed too and said that this made him feel a certain kind of way, a good way, and that our church had good public relations and kind people. His response made me feel a certain kind of good way too. As John moved down the clothing closet line I teared up, because in that moment I remembered that I am a pastor, not just a mask enforcer, and that it is good to be known.

Prayer Help us to perceive and know you, God, in the faces and names of others.

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