Dear God,

   Your world is in the midst of a crisis.  Surprisingly, there are still people who say this is a crisis created or made worse by “The Media.”  Since “The Media” has become a favorite whipping boy for a swath of the public I’m not surprised.  People have to blame someone.  When they tell me this I thank them for their time and tell them that I think they should apply to work for the World Health Organization or the Center for Communicable Diseases:  Those organizations need smart people who know better than world-class scientists.

   This COVID-19 situation is unlike anything we’ve seen in generations.  Fortunately, there are people waaaayyy smarter than me who can help to direct us and guide us, as a nation and world, to health.

   People have told me the flu kills more people as they point to the 1918 “Spanish Flu” pandemic where it’s estimated 27% of the world had or died from the flu.  Therefore, as the argument goes, the flu is more to be feared than COVID.  What they don’t talk about is that people ignored the warnings of health professionals.  The Liberty Bond parade in Philadelphia went on as planned with an estimated two hundred thousand spectators.  Within 6 weeks 12,000 people died and another 47,000 were infected.   So the experts who guide us now are emphasizing “social distancing.” 

   The first social distancing I experienced is when Debbie Spencer said she didn’t want to be my girlfriend.  Suddenly, in that uncomfortable situation, we ran into one another ALL…..THE…..TIME!  There didn’t seem to be a hallway in the entire middle school where we we’re in the same place at the same time.  We practiced social distancing by walking on the far side of the hallway or trying to find a different way to Mrs. Rose’s typing class.  That finally passed.  Her loss.

   Our Old Stone Church, at the advice of health organizations,  is suspending worship services for the foreseeable weeks.  We won’t meet at all in March, and we’ll watch for news in April as time progresses.

   As necessary as that is in this moment of time it’s a contradiction of the very fabric of the Christian Church.  The very thing we NEED TO DO right now is isolate from one another, but the Christian Church does everything it can to bring people together.  The very idea that the church would choose to not have services flies in the face of one of the Church’s most important functions in God’s world: to worship God and stay connected as we lift one another up in our trials.

   So what do we do?

   Stay connected: With you, Lord.  With our loved ones.  With our friends. With our neighbors.  And with our world. 

   The work of the Old Stone Church continues.  I go to the office to field any calls from people who need to talk for a bit.  The Food Pantry was open: meeting people at the door with bags of food ready to hand out.  Encouragement is still spoken from our members to those around them, and our church gets calls from people about how to help with the Pantry, Shut-ins, or anyone who might need an errand run.

   We may need to practice social distancing, but we don’t have to be socially distant.  You, O God, are the spiritual power of the Church, but the physical power of the Christian Church is found in how we obey your words and minister to a troubled world.  We are the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World.  Crisis does not stop us from being who we are in our very nature.

   Our Old Stone Church may not be meeting, but we will certainly still be powerful if we work together as a part of your Church and all of humanity.

   May you continue to bless this creation, as you always have, and give to us perseverance, strength, and hope in all things.  As always, thanks for listening.  I love you.

                                                                                                                                  Dan

Pastoral Pondering April 2020