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As Christians, we are in the midst of the journey of the Lenten season — the 40 days prior to the celebration of Easter, which is the promise of new life and the resurrection.

For all of us, 2020 into 2021 has been a Lenten experience where you have been forced to battle the forces of the COVID-19 virus. Everyone has experienced it in different fashions. We remember those families who have been so radically affected by the virus — who have lost loved ones or have battled the disease themselves. It has taken a toll on our nation and world in many ways.

Our lives have changed, and all of us hope and dream for a time when we can return to “normal” circumstances. But, like any life-changing experience, there is no “going back to normal.”

It will be a new normal — hopefully that is free from fear, worry and anxiety and with the vaccination; one where we will be healthier and can conquer the virus. That’s our hope and our dream.

During this COVID time, it seems like Lent — where we are oftentimes feeling alone in the desert with Jesus, unable to connect with family and friends. But as faith-filled folks, we know that it is in these times of desolation, that God is most with us. And if we look back, we can see where and how God has led us through these struggles, and we come out stronger because of them.

The strength we have received calls us to be grateful, to share what we have been given so generously by God; to never take our health or life for granted. And, above all, to be aware of the suffering and pain with others, so they do not feel alone or abandoned by God. It’s all about realizing that we are not alone; but that we need to care for others, and when we do that, the power of God is once again leading and guiding us to be the people God calls us to be.

We also realize that in the midst of the pandemic, there has been divisiveness in our nation over the election. It’s a difficult time, but we hold onto the values of the gospel in sharing God’s goodness and love, and make sure that we are welcoming and open to all. We have so many gifts as individuals, as communities — and if we can just build upon those gifts, the power of Christ’s resurrection brings new life within us.

Blessings to you, your families and households as you continue through the journey of wholeness, of trusting in the power of God and peace within us. As we approach the feast of Easter, Passover or whatever celebration your faith tradition celebrates, may it be a time of growth; of trust in the power of God, who is always deep within us, guiding us to love and peace.

Mike Roach, pastor of St. James Catholic Church in Liberty, wrote this column on behalf of the Liberty Ministerial Alliance.

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