By Edith Guffey, Conference Minister
There is no shortage of anxiety this week; we only need to look at empty grocery shelves or watch the news. Our phones are blowing up with constant alerts; routines have been disrupted in ways that none of us have seen in our lifetime. Late Sunday night, the CDC changed its guidelines, calling for large events of 50 or more to be cancelled for the next 8 weeks. By the end of Monday that number was changed and information was that meetings of more than 10 should be cancelled. Honestly, it’s times like these that I feel you should have called someone with a deep well of spiritual wisdom, someone that could give you greater depth of guidance and assurance someone other than, well me. But I am reminded that we each are called to different places for different reasons; and honestly none of us in the church are really prepared and trained for such a time as this.
But; the scientists, health professionals, emergency preparedness officials have been trained to respond in these situations. We need to listen. We need to read and follow their guidance. And as usual, we don’t disconnect their concrete guidance with who we are as people of faith. The professionals are asking, pleading with us to care for each other, those aren’t their exact words, but they are saying that what one of us decides to do can affect us all. As parts of the Body of Christ we “get that”; don’t we? It’s that understanding of the Body of Christ, of “community” that will get “Us” through this pandemic. And the “US” is beyond our congregations, because in the United Church of Christ, US is always US BEYOND the four walls of our congregations as we have always understood ministry as extending beyond the building. Today is no exception. This particular ministry is new and is radically different as it challenges us to do something that is counter intuitive to what we think of as caring for community. For us, community almost always means coming together in some way. And this time, caring for community means coming together in our commitment to staying apart. We care for each other by staying apart, distancing ourselves from each other. Because it’s only by all of us agreeing to do this that we will lessen the spread of COVID-19.
We know that being connected to and with each other doesn’t rely totally on physical presence; many of us have always had that option and never been pushed to explore the myriad of other possibilities; other possibilities have been an option, not a necessity. I know your pastors and local leaders will be working on putting those connections, now a necessity in place. Calls, emails, Facetime, ZOOM, technology is our friend these days. Worship can be live streamed, or you can be live on Facebook; and if your congregation isn’t live streaming worship yet, take this opportunity to “visit” a KO congregation whose worship is live streamed; they are listed on the KO website. My guess is that your congregation will have something in place soon. Your pastors will continue to do what they have always done and do so well, care for you as communities of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. And we can all do our part in being open to what is truly counterintuitive; knowing that we will build our communities of faith and our surrounding communities as well by staying apart; not forever but for now.
Check the KO Website for congregations that stream worship and other resources related to COVID-19. https://kocucc.org/covid-resources/