As I watched the news last week, I noticed the results from an online survey at the bottom of the screen. Folks had answered the question: “With respect to the pandemic, what makes you most anxious?”
The top votes went to: Fear of Contracting COVID-19, Personal Economic Challenges, Health Care System Becoming Overwhelmed, Food Shortage.
These are anxious times.
There are very few of us who have any experience with anything that has this type of global impact. Unfamiliarity often brings uncertainty, which inevitably brings anxiety. Anxiety can then cause us to be reactionary, and more prone to compulsive behavior.
As people who have chosen to follow in the Way of Jesus, the Way of Love, how are we, in this specific moment, being called to embrace God’s mission of the Beloved Community?
I have invited us in ECMN to use the gifts the Holy Sprit as given us in this season of COVID-19 to care for our Personal Health, for Public Health, and for Pastoral Care.
Today I invite us to discern how and with whom we might share our gifts, in response to the widespread anxiety in our world.
What are the faithful practices that our tradition and our experiences have taught us to hold fast to so that “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)?
Our Biblical ancestors navigated great travail, and certainly much anxiety. What can dwelling in the Word teach us about our present reality? “Be still and know that I am God,” our sacred story proclaims. How am I creating space to be still and to increase both my comfort and confidence that God is very much at work in our world?
When I encounter the world in its present reality, am I adding to the anxiety? Are my actions, interactions, and reactions demonstrating my faith in a God of healing, hope, and love? Am I manifesting, as we proclaim in our post-Communion prayer, strength and courage, grounded in God’s unconditional love? And as the Presiding Bishop often reminds us, am I living in the opposite place of love, which is self-centeredness, or am I increasing my self-emptying through my self-giving?
Love God, love neighbor, love self. These are vulnerable times. God’s beloved have a choice: to succumb to anxiety and perpetuate anxiety, or to live our lives manifesting to ourselves and to the world the Way of Love. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
“This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid and our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.”
– Brene Brown