Dear God,

   “Help us!”

   I wonder if that isn’t the most fundamental prayer of all humanity? 

   But then when I thought about it, I realize there’s an even more fundamental prayer:

   “Help me!”

   As a kid I believed teachers had a sadistic streak when they’d bring out a “pop quiz”.  In the face of these horrors my prayer was totally self-focused: Help me! I didn’t care about anyone else in the room.  I just knew, a) I didn’t study, b) I needed help, and c) This wasn’t going to end well for Dan Herman.  “God, help me!”

   I don’t ever remember praying, “Help us!”  It was “every man for himself.” The only prayer I recall praying was completely self-focused.  Help MEI might like you, but “You’re on your own in this one, Buddy!”

   Fortunately, I’ve grown.  I now understand that you created us with the expectation that we understand and act on the reality that we are all intimately connected.  My prayers to help only me or those I care about are foolish in our Christian faith.  We are to build one another up so all can succeed, rather than compete and destroy others so I might survive.  In many ways, if one suffers, all suffer…so “Help us!”

   We’re in the midst of a world-changing nightmare, and we need to realize how interconnected we are as individuals, families, communities, states, and nations.  We’re in this together.  “Help us!”

   Though many of us might be insulated from financial pain there are many more who are out of work and feeling tremendous financial suffering.  When they are out of work it hurts all people.  “Help us!”

   There are people who work in stores and gas stations that are essential to our daily lives.  If they get sick we won’t be in that store any more.  “Help us!”

   There are police and firefighters who rush to scenes where they work in close contact with people, and hospital staff who serve others, who may be infected.  Every night they go home after caring for the public and hope they are not bringing infection into their homes.  “Help us!”

   There are people stuck in small apartments with no income and kids clamoring to keep busy.  They don’t have room to spread out and relieve the stress of this moment in time.  “Help us!”

   There are factories where employees have no way of keeping distance or taking precautions for their health: factories which produce food that we all need.  “Help us!”

   We are a part of a global economy and dependence where everyone is fighting the same disease and where the struggles of one become the struggles of all.  “Help us!”

   How dare we pray the junior high prayer of, “Help me!” or help just those we like or care about when we have come to understand that you, Lord, have created us to live and work together.  In fact, Jesus often calls us to think of others just like we think of ourselves,  If we claim to be a disciple of Jesus we must claim that part as well.  “Help us!”

   There is not an isolationist bone in Christianity.  Jesus called upon his followers to lift up and embrace the leper, love the prostitute, lead the sinner, accept the immigrant, search for the lost, encourage the mentally ill, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and more: all in the understanding that we are in this together.  Our prayer, as much I might ask for your help for personal issues, must always be “Help us!” 

   So, please, in this difficult moment of time, Help us!  Help especially those who are under incredible financial and emotional stress and our Governor and County Health leaders as they guide us, and then, after that prayer, Help me to care for and love them and let them know they are not alone.

   As always, thanks for listening. 

Dan

Pastoral Pondering May 2020