The world has been turned upside down.
I am not aware of anyone who has not been impacted in some way by COVID-19.
In such a moment as this, much is being called forth from each one of us.
When I met online last Friday with clergy and lay leaders here in ECMN, I encouraged us, in our roles as leaders in our faith communities, to care for ourselves and one another in three ways:
Personal Health: Each of us has a responsibility to care for ourselves—mind, body, and soul. As God’s beloved, created in God’s image, a vessel in which the Holy Spirit dwells, we are called to be good stewards of our “temple.” That, in many respects, is what is at the core of the Lenten journey: to repent, to turn towards God, aspiring to live more fully into the person God has called us to be. This is about loving ourselves.
Public Health: Each of us has a responsibility to care for our neighbors’ health. This is the reason all of us are being asked to “fast” from gathering in large groups. Based on the information available, it seems likely that most of us, if we were to contract COVID-19, would fully recover. However, some of our sibling children of God are at great risk of losing their lives if they contract the virus. This is about loving our neighbor.
Pastoral Care: Each of us has a responsibility as followers of the Way of Jesus to care for the needs of our neighbors. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-40). For many, this is the greatest Beloved Community moment of our lifetime. Our world needs the loving, liberating, life-giving love of Jesus now more than ever. This is about “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Lean in, fellow followers of Jesus, for these are challenging times. Lean in with love of God, of neighbor, and of self. Lean in with love, re-dedicating ourselves to fully following in the Way of Jesus, the Way of Love.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you,
so guide our minds,
so fill our imaginations,
so control our wills,
that we may be wholly yours,
utterly dedicated unto you;
and then use us, we pray you, as you will,
and always to your glory and the welfare of your people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(A Prayer of Self-Dedication, Book of Common Prayer)