18 Apr 2020
Bow down thy head, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation!
Let us pray,
Lord Jesus, sometimes I find it difficult to talk to you. I, whom you have charged to lead your church, to be a lead pastor. I sometimes judge others too hastily. It’s sometimes so easy to condemn and criticize. But Lord, help me to be a leader who shows real compassion as you have done--even in the midst of these turbulent circumstances. Help me, Lord, to do thy will and lead thy people.
The death of a friend this past week from Covid-19 at first sent me into anger when I was told that she had not acted in compliance with social-distancing or shelter-in-place as requested by the authorities. As the story unfolded, I learned too that her brother had died of C-19 only two weeks ago, and her husband also had the virus. What could she have been thinking?! Lord, it was then that I wondered why anger preceded any feeling of compassion. What would you say about her actions? Then I realized what you would have said: “Judge not lest ye be judged.” I understand now: we Christians have faced such terrible times of sickness, plague, and death before. With the Lord’s help, we have endured and overcome it. With the Lord’s help, we will do it again.
Some say just let God take care of it. But God also expects us to show compassion for our brothers and sisters by wearing masks and keeping our distance. I repair to the words of St Paul if we help God, He will do the rest. Our dear departed friend with an impeccable reputation as an educator for many years, was a devoted family member. She could not stay away from the children and assume others would provide the nurturing she gave. She was a caregiver at heart and when the family called, she was always there. She gave her all. Thus, again I ask, who are we to judge? We must never allow compassion to be lost. The face of a crisis sometimes only becomes real when it is placed at our door. The loss of this dear friend truly breaks my heart. Though I was never her pastor, I was truly always her Bishop.
If this mysterious crisis were a human killer or terrorist, we would know how to respond: we would push beyond his borders and bring the fight back to his territory. But this dark enemy is in many ways not a known thing. It has terrorized us in our neighborhoods. I has darkened workplaces and transportation. It has closed our schools, restaurants, and churches. We cannot look to man for answers to our most important questions. Many are unhappy with politicians who are trying to divide us with their re-elections in mind. True leadership is often sorely lacking--even in churches where many are more worried about their coffers, than the lives of their spiritual flock. It is only with Jesus that we can find the key: “Let your light so shine that you may show your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” We cannot ignore our earthly yearnings and needs, but we must set an example. We must be responsible and accountable to each other. We must never take the gravity of this crisis for granted.
This is as true for a Christian as it is for any other world citizen. Social-distancing and shelter-in-place does not mean we have to throw true fellowship away. We can and must reach out in any safe way possible (phone, internet, etc.) to let friends and neighbors know we care and will help. In such difficult times, we are assured of the hand of God extended to us as St Peter reminds us, “we are our brother’s keeper.”
The ACW is vigilant in its self examination of caring, and we invite you to do likewise, Hear the words of hymn writer Charles-Wesley, “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face; Glory and thanks to Jesus give.”
Beloved, this weekend be steadfast in prayer for each other, family friends, pastors, those suffering from the Corona virus. Never allow our light to grow dim in these dark circumstances. With faith and hope, and prayer, tthis too shall pass.‘
Hear Wesley one last time:
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past
And gladly reckon all things lost, So we may Jesus gain
++Hartley, Presiding Bishop of the ACW