A message in the Time of COVID-19 and EASTER

 

Pastor Barb Dawson DLM had started our church on  the Lenten Journey which due to circumstances can no longer be done at Worship with us.
Here is her message for us!

Dear Friends:

Back on February 26th the global Christian community began it’s traditional 40-day Lenten journey that takes us to Easter Sunday. On March 1st, when we gathered for the first Sunday in Lent we had no idea how ‘uncharted’ this 2020 journey would be as word of COVID-19’s spread started to fill the airwaves. The pace of the virus and the changes it has activated has left our heads spinning, and filled them with worries about the health of our families, friends, local and global communities.

Throughout Canada, as well as many other countries, concerted efforts to ‘flatten the curve’, as a way of preventing the overwhelming of our health care system, has brought us all together in a common purpose despite our shared practice of being apart. People’s health has been and remains the primary concern but we know there are many secondary concerns impacting lives, particularly the economic fall out as we witness massive job loss as an unavoidable consequence of mitigation efforts.

Thankfully a variety of assistance efforts are underway to address immediate needs accompanied with an honest assessment around the need for long term support. We should be encouraged by this and by all the creative and loving ways that people are reaching out to one another. When weighed down by news of  infection rates and lives lost, we hear stories of kindness and we rebound, wondering what our reaching out story could be while still practicing social distancing.

Even as we seek to help in the ways we can, it is an important time for ‘self-care’. A time to recognize our own stress levels and the need to engage in various practices to lessen the anxiety. When I got home from service last week, I checked in with George to see what Keith, the minister at Avondale U.C. had shared. George had made notes.

Keith had offered 5 practices to ease the stress and anxiety that is bound to be there in times such as these. Here’s a summary.

  • Breath
  • Limit media time – get the information you need and shut it off
  • Stay in touch
  • Be kind
  • Pray – Keith added ‘if you don’t pray, pray anyway’

I have no doubt that George took those notes because he figured I could use their wisdom, particularly when it comes to reducing my ‘news’ intake. Despite the wisdom of this guidance I failed to heed it leading to a disrupted Sunday night sleep with my mind spinning endless tales, refusing to shut down. I now adhere to limited media time and am sleeping much better. Applying these 5 practices can serve to give us much needed balance in times of crisis as well as when life is running smoothly.

Sticking with lists, Hillhurst United Church in Calgary put out a list of ’10 Commandments’ that outlines necessary actions and attitudes that assists in the balancing of our communal life and concerns.

Here are the ’10 Commandments for Covid-19’.

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Don’t be a racist
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Don’t panic
  5. Provide for the vulnerable & isolated
  6. Love and check in on your neighbours
  7. Don’t profit from panic or hoard
  8. Respect those on the front lines
  9. Avoid negative social media. Be hopeful!
  10. Breathe deeply – from a distance

It feels strangely symbolic that this pandemic would take hold during this season of Lent with it’s focus on ‘trials and testing’. The wilderness story, which is central to this season, tells of Jesus testing and his trying time experiencing isolation, physical needs and temptation. It was during this time, often identified as ‘liminal’ time, that he discovered inner resources of wisdom, compassion and strength and applied them to his immediate situation and the ones yet to come. Jesus emerged out of that time, clearer about his own call to be an agent for change and a guide to others for doing the same. His ministry was shaped by that wilderness experience, it grounded him as he went about inviting and engaging others in the work of transforming systems of oppression and greed. Jesus ministry helped to inspire and mobilize a ‘people power’ movement that worked for peace and justice, through the sharing of resources and deepening of community ties.

We are in a transformative time with immense challenges ahead but such times afford us an opportunity to re-evaluate and revise the maps (worldviews) that have gotten us lost as a species. It will be a time to mobilize for change. It will require all of us and the sharing of our time, talent and treasure. Gifts are flowing already, coming from every direction to keep us afloat in these uncharted waters. In these times when we cannot meet together in person there a variety of ways to be a worshipping community.

As a small church live streaming is not an option but if you visit Avondale United Church’s website and click on the blue button ‘Listen Live’. The service begins at 10 a.m. You can sing along with hymns, join in with the Lord’s prayer and reconnect with the music of long-time friend and musical gift giver, Dan.

Click Link Below:
avondaleunitedstratford.com/audio/

If you want to be inspired give Peace United Church’s website look at www.peaceunited.ca  – click on Peace News and get Chris’ latest essay. Chris writes beautifully and has a knack for getting to the hearts of things. The United Church’s website also has a variety of opportunities and information.

Last week I reflected on a couple of lines of the United Church Creed and as I conclude I’m thinking that perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on it even more,  particularly the opening line ‘We Are Not Alone’. We need to really let that sink in and be the word of hope it is, a word of hope that will sustain us in these unprecedented times.

Peace Be with You! Barb