A New Year’s Invitation: In the Time of Pandemic
Message from Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey
And the people stayed home.
And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of
being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
I invite you to take a moment to reflect on this poem by Kitty O’Meara…
Friends, instead of my usual Messenger article, I am inviting you to “write” this article with me. At the risk of stating the obvious: the Pandemic has been a game-changer. May I invite us to enter into some deep reflection? Instead of only bemoaning and complaining about the Pandemic’s obvious hardship and catastrophic disruption, what have you learned about yourself, your relationships, the society and the world?
What have I learned about myself, my relationships, the society and the world?
It is not constructive to wish to go back to the way things were. That cannot happen. Things have changed. And in some way, perhaps obvious or imperceptible, something has changed in us and among us too.
This pandemic moment has disclosed many things that were in plain ‘sight’ – globally, regionally, societally, communally, systemically, religiously and personally. They have been there for the perceiving. Are we interested to inquire intently?
In Mathew 6:26, Jesus challenges his disciples to observe the birds of the air. There is something to be perceived and learned. The Greek word rendered at “consider” or “look” in some translations is too tame. The word emblepsate literally means “to discern clearly”. It requires intense scrutiny. In our present moment, there is a lot to discern attentively…a lot of meaning to excavate. That is what this season of pandemic offers us.
The way things were before the pandemic had much to be commended. However, as we now know more comprehensively, the way things were before was also filled with inequity, deception, systemic oppressions and injustice, corruption, pain and suffering. Now some of you may hasten to say: “It’s always been this way”. The question is: is that a faithful and Godly response? We only live in the time we live and hence God’s call is for us to draw on God’s strength, faith, discernment and wisdom to faithfully “love mercy, do justice and walk attentively with God” (Micah 6:8).
So by the grace and accompaniment of God, may I humbly invite you to wrestle with these questions with me:
- What are we learning about ourselves in this time?
- What are we doing with what we are learning?
- Who has need of me?
- Are we committed to pray earnestly to discern who God will have us be and what God will have us do?
- When will I reach out for the help I know I need?
- Why am I resisting that which God is trying to transition me to?
- Where will I find the strength and commitment to make the change I now know I have to make?
- How can I keep on like this? Who will help me? How can I pray?
- Am I willing to commit (or recommit) to the way and life of Jesus?
- How might what we are experiencing now as a congregation help to grow our mission, our discipleship, our engagement with the com-munity?
- Will I (we) follow through on the commitments necessary to ad-dress anti-indigenous and anti-black racism in our society?
(There is space here for your questions, for our questions.)