Dear friends in Christ,
There’s a lot going on these days, and the burden of it all can be daunting. We face political rancor, a fearsome pandemic, terrible fires, powerful storms, and the resulting economic uncertainty. 2020 is turning out to be an annus horribilis like none other.
People are suffering in large and small ways, and it’s not always visible. That person who always puts on a smile might be filled with dread. The cheery colleague might secretly be overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. We build personal walls to conceal our pain. It is the way of our culture.
Masks don’t just protect others and us from a virus. We use masks—literal and metaphorical—to protect us from the vulnerability of admitting our struggles.
It’s no different in church.
I hope we can all check in with one another. Offer tangible help if it’s needed, and ask for help if you can find the strength to do the very difficult thing of admitting not everything is under control. Within our churches, people may have needs that run the gamut from monetary support to emotional pain, from loneliness to anxiety. We often do a great job of caring for one another, and this might be the time to make sure we’re doing our best.
Your clergy bear a particular burden. Your priest has the task of caring for your congregation, and the burdens of that work can be considerable. Priests and deacons are often ordained with a strong pastoral sense, a desire to care for others. And that is harder to do when we are dispersed outside our churches. The peculiar challenges of this time may also push more people into emotionally fraught places. Priests with oversight of churches may keenly feel the weight of this moment.
Pray for one another, but especially pray for your clergy. They are certainly praying for you! Perhaps you will reach out to your clergy and offer reassurance and support. Don’t delay!
I say all this not because clergy are needier or holier or more special than others, but simply because caregivers themselves may need a bit of care. Of course, the same is true for doctors, nurses, first responders, and others. Thank them, pray for them, and offer tangible support—a meal, a kindness, a hand-written note.
You might read all this and worry about me. I’m fine, really. It’s a blessing to work with supportive colleagues at Forward Movement, and I’ve just come back from a vacation (which I highly recommend!). Sometimes after Forward Today goes out, I receive kind notes from readers, and I am always grateful. But today, please send your kind notes to someone else, someone who might be struggling.
We’ll get through this time, by the grace of God and because we are all in it together.
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