Today’s Word from Pastor Jim
I am finding this whole coronavirus experience to be very disorienting. I wake up in the morning and I am not always sure what day it is, or what it is that I am to be doing. My entire adult life has revolved around the rhythm of church. The whole week builds to Sunday, on Monday I have a work hangover, and on Tuesday I start all over again. Throw in a few weddings, funerals, baptisms, and an occasional crisis, and my weeks were always full.
Weddings and funerals have been declared illegal in Washington State right now. Baptisms have been postponed. I am not allowed to visit hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes. The church office is locked down for public safety, no one comes in my office to cry, and our staff meetings are now virtual. Last Sunday, I sat for four hours waiting to see if someone would show up for worship. No one did. It is all very disorienting. As a consequence of all of the above, I do not know what day it is.
But I have a calendar, and I have May 17th optimistically circled. Everyday, I get one day closer to May 17th and even if that date is off by a week or two, still every day I get one day closer to the end of this crisis.
One day closer – that is what we are. That is my new theme for surviving this crisis. I am not happy to be in this disorienting situation, but I am glad to be journeying with you!
Keep safe, isolate, and keep smiling – after all, we are one day closer. And if you call me this week, please start by telling me what day it is.
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Today’s Word from Pastor Jim
I am getting dozens, if not hundreds, of texts and emails these days.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” OK, enough already. I am ready for a little boring, routine, mundane. But as with most things in life, I have no control over that. Each morning I just get up, take a shower, and put one foot in front of the other, asking, “What is in my control today? What can I do for good?”
The first text I received this morning was this one: “I know that you don’t have a direct conversation or phone number with God, but I am being extremely serious about this question…. Does the thought ever cross your mind that the world might be coming to an end?”
Let me assure you all, as I did this text writer, that the world IS NOT coming to an end. The world as we have known it has changed. This change will likely last some months. Most all of us will make it through those months, and life will go on. The consequences of those months could drag on for years or more. The world is not coming to an end, but the world as we have known it has changed.
“May you live in interesting times.” Enough already! I want to go back to the days when Tom Brady would have been the big news. But time only goes in one direction. Our world, at least for now, has changed.
This dramatic change, and the uncertainty of the path going forward, has led to rampant anxiety. The anxiety in our country is probably as dangerous as the virus. People of all ages are anxious. Trust me, I have not been immune to this anxiety. I have been worried about the large percentage of our church population who are considered “vulnerable.” My baby Emily is about to have a baby, and we are not allowed to see her. My 401K has become a 201-Dud. I worry about our church staff and their families. I worry about local restaurants, small businesses, and Boeing.
“May you live in interesting times.” What is in my control? What can I do today for good? We have organized more volunteers than ever before to keep in contact and to care for our shut-in population. At home every other night, we order take-out from local restaurants. I called Boeing and tried to buy a 787, but my credit card was denied.
Financial anxiety at church led me yesterday to send a donation to Good Cheer. That seems counter-intuitive, but it is actually God’s way. Thank you for supporting TLC, and because you have done so, we sent $2,000 yesterday to help our island neighbors.
Is the world coming to an end? No, but the world has changed. Change brings anxiety. We face the future, but we are not alone. God is with us. We have each other, even in a time of social distancing.
The next text from another parishioner said, “Please remember to tread lightly! Batman and Spider-Man can only do so much!”
“May you live in interesting times.” What can I do today for good?
My love to you—be not afraid.