Pastor’s Newsletter Message – May 2020
~ How the World Came Together ~
~ Proverbs 25:25
“Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.”
Dear Members and Friends,
The word “unprecedented” is starting to feel a little tired, don’t you think? It worked at first, and I’ve used it more than once myself. Maybe the reason we keep calling these times “unprecedented” is precisely because we’re reaching for some meaning that we don’t exactly have a good word for…yet. These times are certainly full of things that none of us as individuals have experienced before. Even if widespread contagion is not at all new to our world, it is at least new to us. And never before has the world faced it with the tools (and the expectations) that we have today: modern medicine, worldwide media, sophisticated and delicate food chains, fragile economies, the Internet. It seems that some people in high positions bring unhelpful ego issues to the mix as well. It is an age in which we are learning much about what it is to be human, what it is to live in one big community that spreads across—not just rivers—but oceans, and borders, and time zones, and the divides of language, and culture, and religion.
One thing that I’ve seen, even as we’ve had to isolate ourselves, is the world coming together in some beautiful new ways. Symphonies perform in perfect concert from the privacy of the musicians’ homes. Choirs, like our own, sing in harmony from their home computers. Good Sunday attendance before the pandemic was something better than 150. Now I’m disappointed if fewer than 250 join our worship services online. Suddenly, we’re in touch with neighbors, and friends, and relatives from whom we rarely used to hear. Everyone just wants everyone else to be okay. Always between Christmas and Easter, I used to find myself longing to revisit the church services in far-off Cameroon, where I lived, and worked, and worshiped for five years. I found myself casting about in my mind, trying to remember the songs they sang, the order things came in, the haunting sound of those old hollow-log drums. The pandemic has afforded me the opportunity to attend Cameroonian worship services again, for like us, they have taken church online, whisking my spirit back across the miles to a place that was once my home, renewing my sense of connectedness to people on the other side of the world. In the future, let’s recall how the world came together even as we were forced into isolation.
One very significant renewal that the pandemic has brought me is more frequent contact with my parents. They used to live with my sister near Youngstown, but because she is a nurse in the COVID-19 unit, they’ve had to move in with my brother in the hilly part of Ohio just west of here. The deal was that he would take them into his home if I would drive my mother back to Youngstown every two weeks for her regular treatments. Three hours alone with them in the car every other week has proved to be a strange blessing, a kind of renewal that we didn’t even know our relationship needed.
In this ongoing season of Easter, let us look for new life in old things. Let us seek out the great returns that these times afford us: returns to people, returns to places, returns to God, perhaps returns to ourselves. While we grieve for the suffering and fear that this pandemic brings, there is new life here, too. Don’t forget that your church is not closed; we’re always here. And we’re grateful for your presence with us in these—what shall we call them?—“unprecedented,” unwieldy, unfamiliar, and uniquely blessed times.
In Christ’s Peace,