Being the Body of Christ in an Anxious Time
Throughout both Hebrew and Christian Scripture, one command is repeated more frequently than any other: Do not be afraid. This counsel is uttered by angels, prophets, and the Psalmist, as well as by God the Father and Jesus. It has been calculated that these words appear, in one form or another, 365 times in the Bible! Clearly, we are meant to take this message to heart.
Over the past few weeks, and escalating in recent days, concern about the unpredictable spread of the Coronavirus has led many people to be anxious, if not (yet) fully afraid. That anxiety is understandable, especially given "real time" reports in the media that tend to exacerbate our sense of vulnerability. It is human nature to panic in the face of what we don't know and what we can't control, and I suspect that most of us are experiencing some measure of stress and tension right now.
I want you to know that your parish is here to support and care for you as you navigate these uncharted waters.
It is such a blessing to belong to a community of faith at the best of times - and even more so, I think, during periods of uncertainty. Knowing that we are not alone, and that there are people on the journey with us, can be a source of real strength and comfort. I encourage you to lean in to your faith community, the Body of Christ here at St. Dunstan's, right now. There is power in coming together to pray, to steep ourselves in Scripture, and to share our worries and our hopes with our brothers and sisters. This is one of the things that the Church, when it is functioning properly, does best: it can be a source of strength and renewal to equip us for the journey.
All of this said, I also recognize that for some the idea of gathering for worship is, in and of itself, anxiety-producing. This, too, is understandable, and I trust that you will make whatever decision is best for yourself and your family. Please take a moment to read further about what St. Dunstan's is doing, proactively, to be as safe as possible (see separate article, below).As well, I urge you to remember that you are, in fact, part of something bigger than yourself, and you never need to suffer alone or in silence. What do I mean by this?
For one thing, if you feel as though you cannot or should not make it to St. Dunstan's on a Sunday out of concern about infection, please consider letting me bring the Sacrament to you at home. If I am healthy, I will be delighted to visit you with Communion. It need not take long, and it would give me a chance to connect with you, pastorally.
Also, in the event that we are asked to close the church for a Sunday or two, I will be in touch electronically with resources for worshipping at home. Even if we cannot be together in person, we still can pray with and for one another!
And finally, this is a moment for us to be the Body of Christ at St. Dunstan's. This is a great opportunity to reach out to one another (by phone, preferably) to check in. In the next couple of weeks we hope to put together a parish phone tree to enable us to get in touch with and care for each other. If you have reason to believe that we do not have your phone number here in the parish office, please contact Kim Matthews with that information as soon as possible. We only have email addresses for some folks, and while that's better than nothing, it's not the same as human contact.
This is an anxious time for many of us, but I pray that none of us will be overwhelmed by a spirit of fear. Together, we can be the hands and feet of Christ and care for one another.