“A group of sharks is called a school or shiver.”

Ezekiel’s favorite book right now is all about sharks. Filled with excellent art. There are silhouettes of humans to emphasize the size of sharks. One page has actual size teeth — bigger than a hand and a shark’s mouth is filled with rows and rows. So it is no wonder a group of sharks are called a school – like other fish, but also a shiver… because I would be trembling surrounded by these hunters!

Yesterday was a hard day. That morning I listened to speeches and remembered last year. Storming the capital was scary, but more frightening to me is how the narrative has twisted over this year. Immediately afterward everyone I spoke to felt the same way. I preached on Sunday that God was still with us. All agreed we need grace and healing and unity. But within days the narrative started to change. The dividing lines sprung up. The facts were muddied. Right and wrong confused. Unity was off the table.

Yesterday afternoon, I received word that multiple procedures from our prayer list were being delayed. So many covid patients have filled up the hospital beds, all regular surgeries must be postponed. Some of the procedures, while a hassle for the patient, can easily wait. Others, have potential health implications. Again, in the past year narratives around the vaccine rose up to create division. Facts muddied. Right and wrong confused. And we all suffer.

Yesterday was also Epiphany, the day the church celebrates the arrival of the Magi. These star gazers left their wealth, bypassed the halls of power, and found wisdom in Bethlehem. Today we say, “I had an epiphany” to describe a moment of clarity.

Open your eyes to this moment. We are told the sharks circling us is the other side. But the sharks are not other people. The sharks in the water are lies, hate, mistrust, fear… the sharks are anything that keep us from loving our brother and sister.

The wisdom of Bethlehem reveals that God left heaven to save sinners. To save those who could have been called an enemy. Wisdom knew the enemy was not humanity, but sin. To follow God means we love ALL the people around us. We risk swimming through the sharks to embrace another child of God.

“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.” — John 2:10 (see 2:9-11)

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