April 2020

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die; …

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; …

A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.”

- Selections from Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

Dear Church,

How quickly we have been called to social distancing and self-isolation. As some faith leaders throw caution to the wind insisting it is an act of faith to dare COVID-19 to spread through their faith community, I have been reminded of the power of theology. In the United Methodist Church, Wesleyan theology invites us to construct our understanding of faith by primarily using Scripture, along with tradition, reason and experience.

In the gospels, especially in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as a healer. I have been asked, “If Jesus healed the sick by touching them, why can’t we touch each other today?” Traditionally our church has valued Jesus’ priorities over imitating his every move. The purpose of Jesus touching the sick was to relieve their suffering. Today in the midst of this pandemic, the CDC instructs us about how to slow the spread of this contagious disease. We can follow Jesus’ example by avoiding touch and close proximity in order to lessen the suffering within our community.

For some of us, the disruption to our lives is overwhelming as we endure a limited ability to experience physical touch as a love language, the way we most naturally feel loved. I want to remind you that this is a season, albeit a difficult one, but when we succeed at slowing the spread of this disease, we will eventually be able to safely return to communal settings. I am already envisioning the joy of such a reunion!

Until then, may we use words to convey our love. Hospital chaplains often recommend five helpful phrases for end-of-life conversations:

- Thank you.

- Please forgive me.

- I forgive you.

- I love you.

- Until we meet again.

I don’t think we should wait to have these types of conversations. Whether it’s with the people in our household or loved ones whom we call, may we all learn to express our appreciation and free each other from the burden of guilt through forgiveness.

God bless you, Pastor Heather