1) We can all pray for good outcomes. You will need no coaching thee. Prayers for those who are ill will be heartfelt, especially when people we know and love are affected. Prayers for health care workers, and prayers for those who have yet to be infected, but in the zone should be equally heartfelt. Healthcare workers, caregivers, emergency responders, cashiers, and all who come into contact with the public are particularly susceptible.
2) Those of us who are older, with pre-existing conditions can practice voluntary isolation, avoiding unnecessary contact with other people. When we do go out we can avoid physical contact, not just with people–handshakes and hugs, but with hard surfaces, like stainless steel and plastic. Research shows that the virus can live on some surfaces for as long as 72 hours, and still infect someone. We can also wash our hands at every opportunity, and do our best to keep our homes virus free. I recommend that you practice tele-care, and use electronic aids–like the computer and the telephone to keep up with friends and neighbors. Look back to this website for periodic updates about our church.
3) Those of us who are younger need to practice similar cautions. My son reports that in the Boston area, media outlets like radio and television, teachers, and parents are calling upon children and young adults to be mindful not just of themselves but of others. “You are young and you will survive an infection,” they say, “but some of the people you unwittingly infect with the virus may not.” The message is clear to the young: Think not just of yourself; think of others.
4) Finally, we can all take the time to center. This pandemic gives all of us a chance to do what I did after I learned about my heart disease: make an unflinching look at one’s life before God. What have we left undone? What can I do to finish those tasks? It is said that Martin Luther “searched out himself before God, and God before himself.” This is an exercise best done in a closet. Guess what? Many of us are going to be in that closet for the first time in a long time. Let us turn the necessities of this pandemic into an extended Sabbath, a time given over to God. Perhaps we can rediscover why God gave us the Sabbath in the first place: as an antidote to our own anxiety, generally expressed by the need to stay constantly busy with something, anything that can distract us from ourselves, and from our need for God.
As your pastor, I believe good things for you. I pray good things for you. I believe that God wants to give you good things. Now is a great time to receive them.
The peace of Christ be with you!