FROM YOUR INTERIM PASTOR JUDY ANDERSON-BAUER
OF GRIEF, ENDURANCE, AND HOPE
“WE GRIEVE THE MANY THOUSANDS”
An article in the Washington Post from August 11th entitled “With no end to the pandemic in sight, coronavirus fatigue grips America,” a man is quoted as saying, “It’s difficult when you think you have a light at the other end of the tunnel to look forward to, and then all of a sudden you realize it’s a train.” With case numbers all around the country rising, including in Minnesota and in St. Louis County, it seems like the light we hoped to see this summer was in fact a train. At this writing, over 5 million Americans have been sickened, and over 172,000 have died. It is worse than we thought, and we are all so very tired. Most of us now know of someone who has been sickened with Covid 19, and some of us know people who have died. The degrees of separation have gotten closer.
We are all grieving in our own ways. Many years ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross talked about the stages of grief – sadness, anger, bargaining, acceptance. You can see these played out everyday. People are depressed because they can’t see loved ones. They get angry at having to wear masks. Young people think they can go to parties, because they won’t get very sick. And then the reality – this is our lives now. My family is starting to make plans for a “virtual Christmas.” How sad and strange and awful is that!
My prayers of late have been, “Loving God, grant us safety, and health, and endurance.” In this time of suffering, of needing to be apart from those we love, of having our lives turned upside down, it seems to me that we are all simply trying to endure this catastrophe. We are, none of us, at our best. We are, all of us, tired and cranky and frustrated. We are, some of us, struggling to be God’s light in a hurting world. At this time, we who are bold to call ourselves “Friends of Christ” are asked to be more, to be the best of what humanity can be. To be the best of the Church. To be the heart and love and peace of God in a world that is sad and frightened.
A few weeks ago we read this from Paul’s letter to the Romans – “. . . we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The end product of suffering is hope. We are the keepers of that dimly burning flame, keepers of hope. In these dark and troubled times, nurture that flame of hope in your heart. We are not alone. God has not abandoned us. God’s love will walk with us, even through these dark valleys. God calls upon us . . . to Be the Grace. Be the Miracle. Be the Love. Be the Hope.
A new hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to the tune of "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded"
“We grieve the many thousands — yet we can't understand;
we cannot grasp how many have died throughout this land.
We cannot see their faces or hear the stories told of all the ways they blessed us — the young ones and the old.
O God, we grieve the struggle of those who died alone --
so far from friends and neighbors, from all they'd ever known.
We grieve for precious people who could not say good-bye;
we weep for those, now mourning, who sit alone and cry.
O God, we grieve for millions who now are unemployed who cannot feed their families — whose hope has been destroyed.
We grieve that needed workers must worry for their health while some with lives of privilege stay home and build their wealth.
O God of love and mercy, we cry to you, "How long?"
In troubled times remind us: Your love is ever strong.
Now as we grieve the suffering, Lord, show us how to be
A healing, loving presence in each community.”
(Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.)
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