“We do not grow by knowing all the answers, but rather by living with the questions.”

Max De Pree

This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.

Amanda Gordon, Youngest Poet Laurette

Epiphany 2022

Martin Copenhaver in his book “Jesus is the Question” points out that Jesus asks 307 different questions and by contrast was asked only 183 questions. According to two published studies Jesus directly answered only 3 of the 183 questions. “Jesus,” Copenhaver states “is not the Answer Man – he’s more like the Great Questioner.” 

In the first year of my ordained ministry, a church member gave me a plaque with the quote from Max De Pree listed above. This wise woman already knew that for a rookie Pastor, these words would be a faithful guide in the coming years of ministry. Truth be told after 30 years I have far more questions than I do answers.

Sometimes the task in our lives is to come up with the right questions more than the correct answers. Maybe the right question amid these two years of Covid is not when we return to normal, but instead what faithfulness looks like as Amanda Gordon puts it “as we reach toward what is next.” The more profound and challenging question is what gifts is God giving us amid these days of separation and anxiety and uncertainty? 

We tend to focus as church and as individuals on scarcity rather than abundance. We pay attention to what is missing instead of the gifts of God’s love in each moment. What gifts have I discovered as we enter the third year of Covid? Here are a few of them as I reflect on the question:

  • The realization of the importance of connections to each other. This was something I took for granted. You are more important to me now than ever before.
  • A sense of freedom to move away from metrics that have defined our lives before and to embrace more meaningful ways of measuring what is important.
  • The challenge to be more creative and thoughtful and out of the box in my thinking.

What gifts is God giving you these days? I invite you to live with this question.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. P. Alex Thornburg