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DYK? "What Matters"

Posted: March 28 2020 at 03:23 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop and Dir. of Connectional Ministries

Christopherson Arlene

Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop and Dir. of Connectional Ministries

As I write this column, one of our pastoral families welcomed a first baby into their home. Others are burying a parent. Families are frantic for the well-being of loved ones separated from them by the novel coronavirus. Others are juggling homeschooling and entertaining rambunctious children. High school seniors are grieving the cancellation of prom and graduation, and Olympic hopefuls are adjusting to the postponement of this summer’s games. Medical personnel are putting their lives on the line in ways we have rarely considered.  

All of us have had moments in our lives when priorities shifted quickly, but none of us have lived in a time when the priorities of a nation and the world have changed in the blink of an eye.

Stories of how our world has come to a halt and how our world goes on in the midst of a global pandemic are clashing all around us. Most of us have experienced the loss of our daily routines, the postponement of long-awaited milestones, financial upheaval, loss of purpose, freedoms we took for granted—even our sense of security. We are being pushed to a new understanding of “what matters”.

Over the course of a few short weeks, we find ourselves in a strange, unfamiliar world. At first, the virus seemed far away: China, Italy, even Washington State. We watched the reports of illness on the news, but life went on as usual. Planning was in the final stages for General Conference and Holy Week services. Now our assumptions have been challenged, turned upside down, our expectations shaken, and our routines are anything but routine. Uncertainty has become the norm.

My family was poised to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday when we learned that large gatherings would be suspended. The food was ordered and party supplies assembled. We settled for a small family dinner on Saturday, March 14, and plan to have our party when it is deemed safe. Postponing the party was a disappointment, but we soon determined that “what matters” is life. Bringing my mother and her friends together in those circumstances would put their lives in danger.

It was jarring for us all when Bishop Dyck asked that worship be suspended. On rare occasions, Sunday services are cancelled for a snowstorm, but even then we’ve said “where two or three are gathered we will worship” and clergy often found their way to the sanctuary, just in case.  

“What matters”? Faith, life, community: all three have been challenged in a COVID-19 era. Faith is life-giving and sustaining. Faith offers us groundings, belief, prayer, community, routine, and hope. Our clergy are bravely and boldly experimenting with new forms of discipleship as they have reinvented the rubric of worship, pastoral care, Bible study, support, and community overnight. From drive-by pastoral calls to Facebook devotionals and online worship, we are feeding our souls and creating a new form of community. 

“What matters” for you today? Take a few slow, deep breaths and offer your thoughts to God. Listen for God’s sustaining Spirit, give thanks for those things we cherish, and seek God’s strength as we navigate this season.

Be still and know that I am God ~ Psalm 46:10

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