Grace, mercy, peace, and good health to us all!
Today, I’m combining my Pastoral Letter and Covid-19 Devotion 5. So, first things first. My hopes and thoughts, as well as prayers, are with the people of LUMC. I pray for you every day as news of the virus’ rapid spread and stories of people who succumb to it confront us. Feelings of uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and even doubt, may be prevalent in your life. I, too, feel their effect. They’re all quite normal feelings to experience during this crisis. One less thing overall to doubt is God’s presence among us and the world. Before the universe came into being, God was present. God’s presence was there at the moment of creation. God’s presence was with us every past moment and will be with us forever and always.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence,
there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are
pleasures forevermore.–Psalm 16:11
Here is the latest: The Commonwealth’s directive to Montgomery County (among others) is to Stay-in-Place until April 6, 2020. LUMC will continue to produce online Sunday worship services at 9:00 a.m. through the official Facebook Page and website (www.lansdaleumc.org) until further notice. We should prepare ourselves for the cancelation of gathering for the Easter Sunday service at the church on April 12th. Easter Sunday will likely be an online celebration too. But then, on the first Sunday that we’re able to gather together again in our Sanctuary, we will celebrate Easter!
I’ll be leading the staff today in a Zoom Meeting. We will discuss Holy Week opportunities for worship and inform you when a plan is clear. It’s wise to be prepared in the current fluidity of the novel coronavirus crisis and to alter our usual practices. Whether this “new normal” is temporary or not is yet to be seen. The day will come when we will worship together! Let that be our constant hope and our abiding prayer.
I want you to know I’ve been in contact with the leaders of the four “Anonymous” Groups that have regularly met in the church for some years. I’m glad to report their groups are meeting remotely and are well. They’re eager to return to the church. They were delighted to know we care!
If you would like to volunteer temporarily in a Comfort Call Ministry, please text or call me at 484-767-2352 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to volunteer temporarily in a Grocery Shop Ministry for staple items to deliver to church families who need help, please text or call me at 484-767-2352 or email at email@example.com.
Devotionally, let me address ways to cope during the pandemic physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This moment in time, called Covid-19 Pandemic, is merely one scene from the whole of your life. Your life is more abundant and fuller than this one moment. This moment will end, and new scenes will come. We have to act out this scene and ready yourself for future scenes. Your future may be different than you expected, but you will get through this moment.
Grieving is most likely the cause of any physical pain, fatigue, discomfort, or stress you’re feeling. Grief is God’s tool for healing your deepest hurts. It’s like this: Life takes a turn for the worse when a loved one dies, or a job is lost, or safety and security evaporate. It would help if you worked through the feeling of loss. As you do, your heart will open for new encounters, relationships, and dreams. When grief is unplanned, it makes you more vulnerable and uncomfortable. You must acknowledge it, honor it, work with it, and choose to resolve it with prayer, conversation, and activities that produce hope.
Connecting is the fuel of your life. You thrive when connections are safe and healthy. You build life’s foundations on your connections. I implore you to practice physical distancing during the crisis but allow social connections to thrive. Reach out to family and friends. Call vulnerable people, you know. Have conversations with people who have fallen off your radar. Call the people you hurt or misunderstood and apologize. Be in contact with all the people who give life and meaning to you.
Structuring links your brain to your physical systems and your surroundings. You need structure and order. Establish routines to ward off any sense you have of struggling. Your brain, heart, and soul find their balance in patterns. Pray without ceasing. Breathe without stressing. Think without anticipating. Rise early. Get dressed. Eat well. Take walks. Be kind to yourself. God made you for health and long life. Reflect on the ways you’re cooperating with that gracious gift.
Jesus said, I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him is the one that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.–John 15:5