Connecting Beyond the Walls


Today’s word of hope comes from our own Rev. Emily Hull McGee, Pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth.

On Wednesday, our Common Table Bible Study group gathered at noon as is our custom. Members came in with a smile and a wave, some with their lunch, others with a warm cup of tea. The difference, of course, is that we weren’t pulling up chairs in the coziness of our Ammons-Lolley Commons, but rather entering into a Zoom call where we could gratefully see each others’ faces, Brady Bunch-style!

We continued in our reading of Rachel Held Evans’ book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. Our topic for the day? The Bible’s ‘resistance stories,’ stories found in the prophets and the psalms, from Esther to Ezekiel. Stories that remind us that often in contrast to what we see in the world around us, the God of the oppressed, the marginalized, the last and the least will have the final word. Biblical prophets in particular are the ones who speak words of deepest resistance: hope. Hope in a future that seems distant and unknown, hope that can feel apocalyptic in the truest sense of the word (an ‘unveiling’ or ‘revealing’), hope that is fierce and real and life-giving.

I’ll tell you — knowing that we were to be reading about resistance, I decided the day just needed my “Nevertheless She Preached” t-shirt and frivolously fun big pink hoop earrings. (Resisting the pull of these fearful and despairing days!) 

But thankfully, Mary Nell Harris drew us back to that deepest resistance, the hope in new life. She read for us a poem from our Wilderness Lenten devotional guide that, while appropriate for any wilderness of life, felt profoundly meaningful in this particular one. Her gentle lilt and irrepressibly joyful spirit, joined with words of hope, sounded to my ears like the very best of resistance witness.

“The Wilderness is a Place of New Life — Resilient Life” 
by Sarah Are

I used to think the wilderness
would never end.
I called my mom and asked — 
“Does time really heal
all wounds?
Do the pieces ever fall back
into place?
Does the wilderness go 
on forever?

So she told me about 
the horizon.
She said, ’There is an edge,
Where the earth meets the sky.
And when you’re there,
You will see daisies in
the sidewalk
And the sun after the rain.’

I asked her to draw me a map
And she cried,
Because she knew this road was
mine to walk,
But she promised to wait
for me,
Day in and day out,
For as long as the wilderness 

So I walked.
And it felt like forty days and it
hurt like forty nights.
And I waved to the people I 
passed there in the

We tipped our hats to 
one another,
Silently recognizing the weight
we each carried,
Until one day, I realized — 
The earth always kisses the sky.
And this wilderness has turned
into a garden,
And I have made it out alive.

And my mother hugged me,
There at the earth’s edge.
And she whispered in my ear,
That God was that gardener,
And that I had nothing to fear.

So if you ever ask for a map,
Know that God and I will be 
planting seeds,
Hoping to turn your wilderness
into a garden.

For as long as the wilderness
rages on,
I will never stop looking for you
Where the earth kisses the sky.

Together in God’s work of Love,
Pastor Emily


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