In these days of increased physical isolation, we, the body of Christ, step into new opportunities to be Christ’s hands, heart, feet and voice. For some of us, social connection has increased through phone calls, social media and letter-writing. For others, prayer and meditation time have lengthened and expanded to include people throughout the world who are in this with us. A group of you are making masks; others are tending to your neighbors. For some, the physical isolation is mostly a burden; for others, new gifts with new routines are welcomed. For those who are spending more time than usual with pets and/or family members; for those with increased financial strain, stress can reach new levels. We are not always our best selves in times such as these.
To all of us, the resurrected Christ breathes peace to us as he did to his first followers isolated from the world, hiding in fear, overcome with despair (John 20). Rather than condemning them for their denial of him, their lack of faith, their loss of hope, Jesus said it again: Peace be with you – until it got through their thick skulls and seeped into their hearts. We are Easter people now, who dare to hope in the midst of great uncertainty, who dare to speak, act, love, and connect knowing the final word from God is a resounding YES to life even when – especially when – we don’t know how long life will be turned upside down.
While we worship from a safe distance, know there are some among us who are ready to hear your laments and connect with you. Women and men from this community serve as Commissioned Visitors. They have moved through training grounded in God’s word. They are ready to hold safe space with you by phone when you desire a friend in Christ (and, later, in person, when COVID-19 precautions are no longer needed).
It has been my great joy to worship among you, preach from time to time, visit some of you in your homes and during hospital stays, and to work closely with the Commissioned Visitors in their formation.
My time in the role of visitation pastor has ended, and surely our paths will cross again.
I offer great thanks to Pastor Dave who welcomed me and my gifts, to the interview committee, to the Commissioned Visitors (past and present), to the amazing staff, and to you, sisters and brothers in Christ. I was warmly welcomed into the Shepherd of the Valley community from the first day, and I treasure this chapter as a great gift.
Resurrection Hope to you.