Dear Parish Family,
I am sure that many of you have spent more time watching the National News and the Local News, the President's Briefing and the Governor's Briefing, the Mayor, Town Manager, and Town Council's reports and are not quite sure what to believe! We are being inundated with information, opinions, and responses. There are a variety of "takes" on where all of this (regarding the Coronavirus) is going and what will be the outcome short term and long term. We have come up with new terms that we have not used before: social distancing, isolation fatigue, and one I just read about in "The Economist" magazine: "moral hazard during a pandemic" (as if we have seen this before!).
There are strong opinions about how the President, the Governor, the Mayor and Town Council should be handling the shut downs and reopenings; the quarantine, isolation, and social distancing; the tourists and recreational activities. Who is "right?” What will happen to me, to us, to our country, our world; short term and long term?
And, the emotions that accompany all of these concerns and questions: fatigue (not just a physical state; but emotionally "tired of all this;” tired of life not being easy/normal/fun); concern (for ourselves and loved ones); disappointment (no graduations, proms, parties, and even funerals deferred or cancelled); boredom (a "throw back" to middle school and high school days during the summer when students on summer break eventually ran out of "things to do"), anxiety, or even fear. I know that some of us even feel that what represents a challenge for us is constant adjustment to the changes and new information. We want "normal.”
I would like to focus on what is underneath many of the feelings that people are feeling; not for all, maybe, but for many: and, that is "fear." As much as it is on the list of what I have reflected on regarding the variety of feelings and emotions, fear is a strong driver!! Underneath the surface, or overtly, fear is rampant. And, I am not a "reactionary" with all of this; but I "hear it" in a variety of ways and reactions. I want to return to what drives so much of the above feelings and what weighs many down these days: fear.
Let me just list a few reasons why people are preoccupied with fear: fear because of the threat to our health, and/or the threat to the health of our loved ones. There is the fear of lost income, loss of a sustainable retirement due to the stock market, loss of jobs, loss of businesses, loss of life; the fear of loss is in the back or on the front of many hearts and minds. Let me add: the future, and what will happen economically in my personal life and family, in our country, and even in our world.
And, the "potential domino" that could fall if this economic stress persists: social chaos. The loss of income, the loss of provision, the loss of home, "a future,” the loss of life of someone that I love, the repercussions of anger, lawsuits, robbery, riots, or worse, could multiply in our country and/or worldwide. Again, this is "speculation" by some of the pundits, but it is a worry/concern for some.
For young people, and those who have children and grandchildren: the fear and questions about education, jobs, their future amidst what is going on with the Coronavirus and the unknown of "when this will be resolved." Loneliness has been a concern for young people who, even with all the "social media," and the "isolationism" even before this era of the Coronavirus is real. Loneliness has been a concern for many of our elderly as well. With our current life and lifestyle due to the responses, albeit appropriate, it has accentuated what was already a problem and concern.
And, finally, the "new normal"....what will it be? What will it look like? What are the long term ramifications that are here and/or coming?
I believe that we as Christians who seek to walk with and trust the Lord can be responsive to these fears in several ways:
First of all: spend daily time in prayer and in God's Word to seek Him, His presence, His perfect love (that casts out fear), His peace. And, we may need to go back to Him several times during the day! This will bless us in ways short term, and long term, in ways that we can't even imagine: a good "new normal" that is His desire for us....always!!
Secondly: reach out to other believers. God's design and desire is that we be His family, His Body on earth. We are to be connected and care for one another, to provide mutual support and encouragement.
Thirdly: reach out to our neighbors and especially those who don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Without a hope outside of themselves, this physical/material reality, this economic uncertainty, and especially, an uncertain eternity, their fears will be accentuated, and will provide an opportunity for you to be a witness. And, our witness can be by our peace, our love, our hope; and, how our loving and being "in community" (even with social distancing) can be real!
Finally, do not fear "the loss of corporate worship!” We will return at some point. And, it may be "different" for a while! I have been in touch with Bishop Lawrence and we will continue to follow the Governor's recommendation; which means our "gathering for worship" in our Sanctuary won't happen in the first half of May (at least!). But, we can worship individually everyday; we can be thankful everyday; and we can worship weekly with our video streaming.
"This, too, will pass." We have heard this before; and, it is true! We never know what the future holds! And, we still don't! But, we know what eternity holds because He holds us in His hands, in His heart.
And, keep praying, trusting, loving!!
With love, in Christ,