Just a brief reflection, leading to an opportunity…and then an update.
As I see the unfolding of the Covid-19 pandemic it seems to me that more than anything else, this is an effort about “the other.” It’s not enough to care about me, I need to care about and for “the other.”
We’ve now been asked (well, ordered, really) by Governor Evers to stay home unless we in an “essential” business. Please, heed that order.
We imagine that this is about me, about my safety, my health, and it is. The less I interact with others, the less likely I will contract Covid-19. That’s a good thing. The two most challenged groups of folk are those with underlying conditions, and those who are older. I have no underlying conditions, but I am almost in the “older” group. I need to heed the warnings.
But this isn’t just about me. It’s about “the other.” By staying away, I not only protect myself, I protect others. Sure, maybe I can handle Covid-19 if it comes my way, but the more it gets out and around, the more it will threaten those who are at a much higher risk. So I need to ask myself – in this situation, just what would Jesus ask me to do? Insist on my right to do what I want, regardless of what it might do to others? (Hint – read 1 Corinthians 8 – the answer is a definite NO!)
The fact is that no matter how much we as Americans treasure our individual liberties (and we SHOULD), this pandemic doesn‘t care about that. And if we are to survive, if we are to overcome Covid-19, we are going to need to care more about “the other,” and less about me.
Politics aside, at this moment, that is God’s call to us!
So, this moment is about “the other” and working together with others. Even in the church.
Which leads me to the opportunity. We have been invited by Pope Francis to join in the Lord’s Prayer, at noon, local time, March 25. That’s tomorrow. Tomorrow, can you take a few moments, at noon, and join with Christians around the world and across denominational lines to put aside our differences and share in prayer, for the sake of humanity? Or, in other words, can we, for the sake of “the other,” join with “the others” in prayer?
I’m doing it. How about you? The invitation, transmitted through Presiding Bishop Eaton, is at the end of these reflections.
But before that a few updates:
With Governor Evers’ order to close non-essential businesses, we have decided to close the office and the church building. We will still be there most days, in the office, working away, answering phones. We will be available, but the building will not.
The Care and Share Food Pantry will still be open on Saturdays.
Hey, want to try something new and different? I’m going to try a “zoom” devotions and community time tomorrow (March 25) at 7 PM. Go to https://zoom.us/j/520801254 .
Looking for Bible study? I’ve got two going on, both on zoom:
Wednesday morning (starting March 25) at 9:30 AM. Looking at the gospel readings for the coming week. Join is at https://zoom.us/j/187713252 .
Sunday morning (hey, I’ve got that time slot open!) at 10:30 AM. Not sure what we will explore, but come and join me and let’s figure it out. Zoom in at https://zoom.us/j/570417034 . At least until I’m busy on Sunday mornings again!
Don’t forget to check the web site videos page on Saturday evening for weekly worship, children’s message, and Sunday School lesson, all on YouTube videos.
The Mom’s group will also be invited to a zoom gathering in the near future as we try to stay connected.
Confirmation students have been invited to connect with me via zoom meetings over the next week.
A great group of callers will begin phoning Our Savior’s folk over the next week, just to say hi and stay connected.
The 11:45 prayers have been incredibly faithful, but now will pray from home…but I’ll still ring the bell!
We continue to invite your partnership in our work together. Your gifts allow us to do what we have been doing – to bring hope to a very fearful world. This is a great time to try out electronic giving. To find out how, go to https://www.oursaviorswestsalem.org/giving/.
For the moment, that’s it. Please keep checking the web site for updates. And don’t forget to read Bishop Eaton’s letter below.
Know that you are in our prayers, and that God continues to hold you in the grace of Jesus!
The Evangelical Lutheran Church America, as part of the body of Christ, is united with other Christians in our communities, in our country and around the world. This unity takes many forms, including prayer.
I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, to join in the Lord’s Prayer tomorrow, March 25, at noon your local time. Please share this invitation through your synods, congregations, ecumenical communities and individual networks.
During the global pandemic of COVID-19, the church can and should give witness to our unity in Christ and express our deep concern for God’s creation. Despite social distancing, through prayer we are able to enter together into the presence of Christ and the communion of believers. By praying the prayer that Christ taught us, we are united with followers of Jesus in every time and in every place. When the church gathers in this way, we can be assured that Christ, our eternal hope, is present in the midst of suffering.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America