Good morning, dear church!
As we mark the first week of living under these restrictive conditions and realize that, no, unfortunately, this is NOT A SCIENCE FICTION movie that we can turn off, let us also keep in mind that our world has seen much worse, and people, including our own ancestors, endured much more difficult times. Our president compared the now stepped up efforts to combat the coronavirus to a war effort. And in some ways it is like that: it requires sacrifices from everyone and it takes a huge national effort and it will hurt a good number of people. But still, having talked to people who lived through the times of the Great Depression and the great wars of the 20th century, I can assure you that our current situation is not that bad. Let’s keep that in mind, – not to play down the seriousness of the consequences, but to keep perspective. I have had the privilege to tell the life stories of many people of the previous generations and some of those stories were truly touching. The late George Husted surviving the Battle of the Bulge; the late Bob Sands experiencing the horrors of Okinawa; some of my former German parishioners surviving carpet bombings targeting their homes or Russian POW conditions and starvation. My grandmother told stories of giving out a few potatoes at a time to hungry city people looking for food in the countryside. We still have a few people who remember the days of WW2, at least from the home front, such as Florence U. and the other parishioners who are now in their mid-90’s. They all instill in us a confidence that we can get through difficult times. Let us watch out for one another!
One of the nice things about this time of increased messaging is that I sometimes hear from people I didn’t expect to hear from. Not all of the people on our membership email list are members. Some of them are friends and people who simply like to stay in touch with St. Peter’s. Yesterday, our nephew’s wife Michelle H. responded. She and her husband Henry went with us to the Belize Mission Trip in 2017. They married a month later and have now a son Teddy and another one on the way. Michelle wrote about the emphasis on parents with young children:
“Thanks for this note and acknowledging what working parents with little ones are handling! Read this on my phone while on a WebEx while also trying to stay up on work email before switching back to Teddy duty with Henry. It’s for sure a challenge and like many others are feeling we are drowning! I know some people who can’t work are binge-watching shows, reading, etc, even being bored (what is that like?!) and for us, there is no margin of time. Thankful we have jobs though in an uncertain time and thankful that we have a God who is always in control and is constant amid chaos!! Love the idea of online Bible study as an option for those who can make it…”
As you all know, the restrictions or shall I say, PROHIBITION of public gatherings of people are firmly in place at least through the end of this month, but could well be extended to also affect our Holy Week and Easter celebrations in April. We will talk about that and tackle that when we get closer and know more. Right now we have to wait and see and pray and be smart. And use this extraordinary time to our advantage (at least all those of us who are not drowning in obligations like Michelle described above). A number of people have commented and said, “I think the earth is sending us a message.” I tend to agree with that sentiment, as un-scientific as it sounds. But since when have pastors restricted their viewpoints to science? Science is of course critically important in these times, as laboratories race to find a cure or vaccine. But on a spiritual level, I too see this as a wake-up call for the global community. The earth, and God, are banging on our door! We can no longer pretend that we live by ourselves. We are, for better or worse, part of a global community. What happens in China and Italy will sooner or later affect us. What happens here affects other people around the globe. Maybe this wake-up call will teach us the limits of unlimited growth, self-centered decisions, the need to better take care of our globe and the advantages of local sourcing as well. I don’t mean to preach my opinions to you, but those are some of the things I hope for in the bigger picture… I truly do. Lord, have mercy and teach us to live in more sustainable ways!
Today, I would like to invite you to pray for another group of people in our community: singles living by themselves. I recently talked to Judy J. who lost her husband last spring, suddenly and painfully. She is working at home now like so many of us, but she said it’s different because Roy always used to be there when she worked from home. Now he isn’t. So, the entire experience has a bitter taste and throws another wrench into that unruly process of grieving, which is difficult and topsy turvy anyway. Please think of Judy and pray for her today, and along with her for others in our congregation who are living by themselves. I recently received a note from Karen W. whom you might know as one of the coffee ladies. She has frequently prepared our coffee table at church together with Bill J. She is single and wrote me this sweet note:
“I hope you and your family are doing well. I am fine, and now working from home. Fortunately, my job allows me to work from home right now. I count my blessings every day, and keep my sense of humor, staying away from the news. I want to thank you for the inspirational emails and prayers you send each week in your emails. Living alone presents a real voice challenge, and I’m on the phone a lot for work. However, with working from home, I have no office mates to converse with all day. I pull out the weekly prayers from your emails and read them aloud. They help clear my voice, and they calm me down – as much as meditation does. Thanks for all of your inspiration – it does not go unnoticed!”
Please pray for Judy, Karen, Rob S., Ginny B. and all the others who are living by themselves, some of them with hardly any family members in the area!
Maybe you can think of a single person in our congregation and reach out to him or her. That would be nice!
Don’t forget: we will accept food collections for Manna on Main Street today between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. You can leave your bags in front of the church. We will take care of it.
Be well and be blessed, Pastor Andreas Wagner