We are in a new moment in the history of humanity.
All aspects of life have been disrupted. No one is exempt from the impact of the world-wide coronavirus pandemic. Alongside that reality is another unchanging reality: no one is outside the love of God. People in our care need love and guidance from us as their ministers and pastors. Yet, we are not exempt from the impact of this moment either.
The recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control offer guidance that can be followed as we care for the health of our families, our congregations, our schools and our most vulnerable neighbors. We need to follow them with the greatest intention, in order to “flatten the curve” and slow down the spread of the coronavirus. In following this guidance, we can also be part of taking pressure off the country’s already stressed healthcare system.
Although it may not appear just looking out your door or down your street that a pandemic is coming near you, the cases of Covid-19, a novel coronavirus, are growing exponentially in the U.S. and the spread comes through casual human contact such as hand shakes and high fives. Sharing accurate information about the virus is part of our obligation as ministers who educate our flock.
Giving pastoral care in this season of change, anxiety, and fear, is also one of our top priorities as ministers. Leading through decision-making responses is among our most pressing concerns. Working to balance both an abundance of caution with an abundance of care for our vulnerable neighbors is the tension in which we practice ministry in this moment.
As spiritual caregivers most of us have no living memory of a situation that has impacted the world so rapidly or with such dramatic consequences. We need resources for spiritual care as well as health care. And we need to hold in mind how the effects of the virus are most challenging to people who are medically fragile, elderly, or suffering with breathing disorders.
We are also living in a time when human beings have never had so many options for staying connected even while engaging in the new faith practice of social distancing.
In this dramatic and defining moment of history, I am grateful for guidance from my friend and colleague Mary Clark Moschella. She offers a word about the ways we must listen for values, for calling and for justice in the people with whom we minister. Through the season ahead of us, we must tune our ears to listen to one another with utmost care.
In the first episode of our conversation Mary and I talked about the power of listening. What a gift to share Mary’s perspective in this moment.
Here are some questions that I offer to you this week:
How will you listen for the values that need lifting up in this moment? And how will you act on behalf of the love of our neighbors, especially the most fragile ones? What are the challenges before you?
I am praying for your discernment, for your courage, for your compassion and for God’s abiding presence in your life and work.
For more guidance on spiritual care in this season, see my recent article at the Christian Century blog: “10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care during the Coronavirus Outbreak.