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A Season of Mourning

My grandmother (who we lovingly called Mema) used to say, “There is a time for everything—a season for every stage—an ending for every beginning.” It reminds me of these words from Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Seasons of the Church Year 

In our LCMS tradition, we have seasons. Seasons of the church that represent what the Scriptures emote at that time. A time of waiting like Advent, and a time of expectancy like at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ. A time of light like at Epiphany, and a time of jubilation such as at Eastertide.

Right now, in our country and even in our own lives, it feels as if we have entered a specific season.

A season of mourning.

A season of darkness.

It’s reminiscent of 9/11/2001—an entire city covered in the ashes of The World Trade Center. And in the early morning, darkness covered an entire city as the buildings came down, and the body count went up. And darkness cloaked the world.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have now experienced a 9/11 death count for each and every day the pandemic persisted. Mothers buried children. Spouses watched as their significant other slipped into their eternal rest. Lifelong friends waved eternal goodbye. We buried our dead, and darkness cloaked the world.

Light Breaks Forth in Darkness 

In a world of such darkness, it can be easy to become discouraged. Beyond the global pandemic, beyond the international attacks, we have daily personal pandemics and attacks. Depression, broken relationships, missed time, livelihood loss, motivation loss, and so on.

In 1 John 1:5-10, God tells a different story. Using our own reason, thought, or strength, it is easy to slip into darkness. But when we put our trust in God most high, His light breaks the darkness! Where we have slipped into sorrow, through His blood we are reborn into marvelous light. This pandemic of darkness, this attack of the enemy—it cannot stand against the Lord!

This Lenten season, we acknowledge the consequences of darkness: death. But as we received the ashes on Ash Wednesday, we were reminded that through the work Christ has done on the cross, Light breaks forth.

So, let there be light.

In this season, this dark place, we walk the road to death with Christ. We remember His sacrifice for our sins. We see his hands pierced for what our hands did. We hear his cries that ought to utter from our own mouths. And as the world goes dark as He suffers for what we did we break forth in light held in those same nail-ridden hands. Covered in His blood as redeemed children of the Light.

So, when this world seems like it has nothing left to give, it is simply because Christ gives a better gift. He curates a better season. He trades mourning for joy.

So, in the evening of Lent, we wait in expectancy for the morning of Easter.

And we follow The Light.


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Picture of Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling
Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling is an LCMS pastor and Lutheran university educator. Dr. Bolling holds a BA in theatre from Concordia University Chicago, an MDiv from Concordia Seminary, and a doctor of education (EdD) degree from Concordia University Wisconsin in leadership, innovation, and continuous improvement. His dissertation was focused on human resource development in under-resourced urban ministry structures of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (How LCMS Pastors Are Developed through Mentorship). Dr. Bolling currently serves in a dual call as pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and as assistant professor of leadership and theology in the online modality and coordinator of multicultural engagement at Concordia University Texas. His passion for urban ministry, education, leadership, nonprofit management, mentorship, diversity/equity/inclusion, and distance learning are all married in this dual call as he serves the saints of Bethlehem and the students of Concordia University Texas simultaneously. Dr. Bolling has also spoken at numerous conferences, on podcasts, and at churches, schools, and events within our church body, reflecting the love of Christ and prodding deeper conversations about deaf, urban, and cross-cultural inclusive ministry. He has taught in half the schools of the Concordia University System, thoroughly realizing the depth of knowledge our Concordia schools have to offer to the world they engage. Dr. Bolling has been married to his beautiful and talented wife, Lorenda, for six years. Lorenda serves as a preschool teacher at Word of Life Lutheran School. Together, they have a four-year-old son named Lincoln and a two-year-old daughter named Monroe. Both children were born in different years but on the exact date—October 5! They currently reside on the south side of St. Louis, Missouri.

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