Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received. . .and the God of peace will be with you.
I begin with a word of thanks and admiration for all in our diocesan community who are responding to the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in with creativity, generosity, and goodwill. As I write, lay and clergy leaders are working to adapt their worship, pastoral care, community service, and educational offerings in light of our decision to suspend public worship and normal church operations for two weeks.
These are not easy steps to take, but together, with God’s help, we’re learning new ways of being the church. In this week’s e-newsletter, you’ll find resources that your diocesan staff is curating on the EDOW website. But creative options are everywhere, both locally and nationally. Feel free to experiment and share what you learn.
When church buildings are damaged, we remind ourselves that the church is not a building, but a community gathered around the ministry of Jesus. In times when gathering is restricted, we learn that what unites us transcends social distance. And when society at-large is under duress, we realize with great clarity that our primary ministry is to serve others and the common good.
Yet this is also a time when our own vulnerabilities and fears come to the fore, when real disappointments and frustrations affect our spirits and fatigue takes its toll. As losses and uncertainties grow, we would be made of stone if we didn’t feel the strain of an uncertain future and urgent concern for those facing the harshest consequences of all that is disrupting our lives.
These are the times that faith is for–times like this, when we and those around us need assurance that we’re not alone, and that together we will get through whatever lies ahead. Now is the time to draw close to God in prayer, and to one another in acts of kindness and love. Remember that we do not walk this road alone. Christ is, as the celtic prayer reminds us, behind and before us, within and around us, speaking to us through the words of friend and stranger.
Christ spoke to me this morning through this beautiful prayer written by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells from St. Martin-in-the-Field in London:
God of healing and hope, in Jesus you meet us in our places of pain and fear. Look with mercy on those who have contracted the new virus, on any who are vulnerable, and on all who feel in danger. Through this time of global concern, by your Holy Spirit bring out the best, not the worst in us. Make us more aware of our interdependence on each other and the strength that comes from being one body in your. Through Christ, our wounded healer. Amen.