Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew, the fifth chapter.

I received an email this week from the ELCA Healthcare System. The email reminded church professionals that they were not alone in this corona virus pandemic. Our healthcare provider would be there for us when despair or depression set in. They gave us a list of resources, and promised us that the cost of this mental health care was covered by our ELCA insurance. My first thought was that I was very fortunate to have healthcare. My second thought was that I had better get with it! I wanted to take advantage of this free offer. Finally, I wondered what was wrong with me, that I was not despairing or experiencing depression.

Upon reflection, I realized that perhaps the risk was greater than I thought. The mental health crisis brought on by anxiety, uncertainty, isolation, and financial stress is spreading like warm butter on hot bread. Parents and students feel it, senior citizens locked up in assisted living facilities feel it, couples who are not used to so much “together time” feel it, our essential workers are weary, and each morning as I arrive early to empty offices and an empty church, the reality of this dark season visits me.

It is good to call a thing what it is. This pandemic has wreaked havoc on the fabric of our social and communal lives. This pandemic has crippled family finances, sending people to local food banks who were gainfully employed and self-sufficient just two month ago. And we long to worship, to see our church family, to be uplifted by the choir, to muse upon God’s grace, and to sample every cookie in the coffee hour.

Let’s call a thing what it is. This pandemic is a threat to us even if we are perfectly safe from the virus. We need to pay attention to our overall health; mental, spiritual, and physical. Get out of the house every day. The Governor wants you to get out. Put on your mask and get out into the fresh air. The three months that are before us are the warmest and brightest of the year. Get out and take full advantage of living through this quarantine on the most beautiful island in God’s creation. Watch old sermons on our website, there is a good chance that they will help you gain perspective, and they are guaranteed to induce sleep. Listen to good music, pick up the phone and check in with friends.

If you need help, get help! We have a list of resources in the church office. Finally, know that you are not alone. We are all experiencing grief, loss and loneliness to one degree or another. So, cut yourself a break and extend that courtesy to others. The Bible is full of heartfelt lament as humans have struggled with the reality of our frailty and brokenness.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

From my isolation to yours – much love.
Pastor Jim

P.S. We will return to public worship when it is safe for a congregation of our size to do so. Our church has never been closed, as we continue to be the church together. We will resist the temptation to act impulsively, and we will refuse to put the most vulnerable of our community in harm’s way. For this season, love looks like an empty church.

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