I am posting excerpts from pastoral letters written for the congregation of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Florida. These are offered with the prayerful hope that others might find perspective or encouragement in them.
As we endure these weeks of separation, my feelings are quite numb. It is such a surreal time that my heart does not really know what to feel. For me, the predominant emotion is sadness. This morning as I was praying for members of CPC, my impulse for some was to say, “I need to check in on this person or family. We should have them over for lunch.” And then I had to check myself. We cannot do this, not now, and not for at least thirty days, probably longer. This has left me hanging a bit trying to adapt to this new world and the way ministry can be done.
For others of you, your emotions are far more intense. You are afraid, understandably so. You or those with whom you live are the vulnerable. Every cough, every ache, every body anomaly has you wondering and worrying.
Others of you are experiencing the severe financial pinch of this, and you feel an anxious dread. You wonder if you’ll have money to meet the expenses of the next few weeks or months. You wonder whether your business will survive or if your job will be there when this is over.
And still others of you are harried beyond measure. You love your kids, but suddenly you are having to work from home, and somehow supervise your kids schooling, without losing your sanity or exploding in anger.
These are tough times in which the church is unable to be the resource it has been in the past. We need others, we need their laughter, their encouragement, and as bodily creatures, we need their hugs. Hugs, and presence, are a casualty of the current situation. We can reproduce some aspects of our ministry, but meeting virtually is not the way church is supposed to be. Some of us struggle with our faith and need public worship so we can lean on the faith of those who are not.
All of this makes me sad.
But we do what we can.
It is intriguing to note that there were periods, at least, in Jesus’ life when he opted for periods of social distancing. “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray,” Matthew tells us. This is, at least, one thing that we can be doing. Stephanie Ilderton every month puts together a lovely prayer guide with recommended daily prayers. Download that and put it with your Bible. The April requests swirl around the needs that this unique time has brought to the table. Pray for these, for others in the church, for those in your community group, for those who are vulnerable.
We can use this time to pray for one another.