Saint Peter, Ida Wells, and we learn that to follow Jesus is to walk alongside suffering, including our own. Our call is to bear witness to the suffering, and when we see that evil is the root cause of some of the suffering and death around us, we shine a light on it and we root it out.
After the flood, Noah and his family do not become gods. They are not granted immortality. But they are given a promise. A promise and a sign. God’s weapon, a great and colorful bow, is laid down for good in the Hebrew story. It is pointed up at the sky and away from us forever, to remind us every time the sun cuts through a rain, that any deluge to come will not be God’s doing. A reminder that God has made a covenant with all the descendants of Noah, which are all the human beings who will ever be, and with every living creature on earth, the story says, that God will not be our destroyer.
The gift of holy forgetfulness is one that comes from the very heart of God. It is what God does. The psalmist sings that our transgressions are removed from us “as far as the east is from the west,” which is, of course, an infinite distance. They are not packed nicely and neatly into a manageable corner of a forgotten closet. They are gone — maybe not from your mind as they swirl in your head in the vulnerable hours of night, but forgotten by the one who matters, the one who removes them, God. It’s God’s holy forgetfulness that we call on and trust in on this day particularly.
Lent is a time to listen, to see, to sense, and to pray. It is a time to give space for the light of Christ to penetrate the fog and shine through the darkness. It is a time for us to be and share that light with each other and the world around us. It is a time for us to offer big and little gifts of revelation.
Jesus’s healings were primarily symbolic actions, meant to violate and disrupt the social order of his day. They were challenges to the structures that defined who counts as human, because the kingdom of God has a scandalously different definition of who does.