I don’t know about you, but during this Pandemic, I sometimes imagine the unseen Coronavirus as a “thief coming to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10). I am thankful my grandmother taught me, “when I am afraid, I will trust in God.” Psalm 56:3
During these days, I believe we all have visual images and stories of kindness to share. A long time family friend who could not accompany his wife inside the hospital for her surgery remained in his car to prayerfully wait for any news. Teacher friends delivered cards to our friend alone in the hospital before she moved alone to a nursing home. The son of my dear friend and his fellow inmates in a federal prison are fearful of the spreading coronavirus due to measures not being taken to sanitize or provide masks and gloves. Psalm 102:20 “…the Lord gazed out from heaven to earth—to hear a prisoner’s groaning.”
Large numbers of “essential workers” such as medical staff, farmworkers, nursing home workers, grocery workers, postal and delivery drivers, are included as first responders and we rightly call them heroes because we realize they are risking their own lives to serve us. Let’s come along side them with more than kind words since we know they need personal protective gear, living wages, affordable housing or health care. As Dr. King reminded us “all labor has dignity,” Jesus called on us to “love your neighbor as yourself? Mark 12:21
How grateful we should be that farmworkers continue to harvest food so we can purchase it in grocery stores and share it through our own Picnic Project with our Sanford neighbors who are food insecure. Yet, just a couple of days ago the number of positive tests among Immokalee farmworkers had risen to 27. Social distancing is impossible when 3-4 families must share rooms in the same trailer; to acquire personal protective gear is nearly impossible. Psalm 146: 6-7“…he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry.”
Marlyssa Gamblin and Bread for the World reports how the history of racial inequity in our country has led to higher rates of hunger, health challenges, loss of jobs or working in the 10 lowest paying jobs for people of color. She calls these “preexisting conditions,” leading to African Americans, Latinos and Indigenous people contracting and dying of COVID-19 at higher rates, sometimes twice as high, as their white counterparts.
As a teacher, my heart goes out to the families, children and all educators, working to insure than children are not falling behind in their education during this time of “home schooling,” How good that our school system is attempting to provide school lunches to those who are in need. Matthew 25 :…”I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.”
This stay at home and social distancing we are choosing to follow has been a challenge but I am grateful that it has afforded me time to be more intentional in prayer, meditation and study. Turning off the news to “Be still and know that I am God, “ (Psalm 46:10) helps me listen for the quiet voice of the Spirit. Even though at times I feel overwhelmed, anxious or angry, sad or shocked, I am choosing to spend more time to read, study and contemplate. I have braved ZOOM to connect with family and friends and reach out more by phone calls. Music has played a huge role for me from when I was a child. I recently I recalled how my father had introduced me to Mahalia Jackson and we sang with her “He’s God the Whole World in His Hands”. My mother, whose birthday is today April 26th, taught us Great is Thy Faithfulness which resonates with many in our family. So at a time when we can’t hold hands let us remember in the words of an old song, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, lead me on through the night, through the storm…” We can know that God is leading us. I believe we are blessed with Pastors Meghan and David Killingsworth who help us learn more about God and how to “Love thy Neighborhood.” May we take the risk of joining together, even though virtually, to do our part in building this part of the “beloved community” open to all. May we recognize that nudge reminding us that Jesus is not only here but walking with us on this journey and God promised in :
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned.
the flames will not set you ablaze.
God of life, we give thanks that you are with us in our grief and in our laughter, that you have always been there through our individual storms of life including this Coronavirus Pandemic . By your Spirit, may we come closer to you, especially now, as love requires that we keep our distance from one another and closer to one another.