31 Mar From the Pastor’s Desk…
By now you are no doubt aware of the mandatory orders of the Virginia and Maryland governors as well as D.C.’s mayor to stay home. The Virginia order, issued Monday, March 30, runs through June 10 which means that it will be much longer than we had hoped or anticipated before we will be worshiping together in person. Given the alarming escalation of coronavirus cases and deaths in our region, the shelter-in-place announcement was not a surprise. For the health of all our citizens, it was the only wise, rational decision to make. I am grateful for Mayor Bowser and Governors Hogan and Northam’s leadership during this pandemic crisis.
So, what now? What does all of this mean for Calvary? For starters, it means that our live stream worship will continue for at least the next ten Sundays. After our Palm Sunday and Easter virtual services, I will begin a sermon series on the book of Genesis. This is a series I’ve been looking forward to doing for a long time. Somehow, when the word “unprecedented” is now aptly used almost daily, going back to the beginning seems fitting. These sermons are already speaking to me, and I trust that they will also minister to you as we delve in together beginning April 19.
Second, Calvary is rightly known for our commitment to community. Our connections to one another are deep, meaningful, and in many ways define who we are as a congregation. These next ten weeks will test the depth of our bonds, and it is up to each one of us to personally assume responsibility for maintaining them. I’m asking you (okay, as John Kerr would say, I’m imploring you) to reach out to one another. Make a few phone calls each week, not only to the people you know best but also to someone you don’t know as well. The good news? People will be home to take your call! (Calvary’s online directory can be accessed via our website . (Click and scroll down to the bottom.) The password is 22303. Some people have no trouble at all getting “in.” Other people do, for reasons that I chalk up to technology gremlins. If you need help, please email or call Barbara in the church office, and she will assist you.)
Finally, I want to say a word about personal health. In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” He was speaking, of course, in the context of the American Revolution against Great Britain. We are in a different era, fighting a different kind of battle, but without question, our souls are being tried. Our routines have been upended. Just going to the grocery store raises anxiety. The future is uncertain. Financial strain is burdensome for many. We are tired already of being at home. Kids are restless. Virtual connection is something, but we sorely miss human touch and seeing people face to face. Major life events are being postponed or missed entirely. Life feels out of control. On a daily basis we are dealing with disappointment, impatience, loneliness, grief, and fear on a scale most of us have not known before.
So, let me remind you, friends, to take care of yourself. Breathe. Pray. Name your blessings and express your gratitude. Drink in the sunrise or the night sky. Watch what you eat, what you listen to, and what you fill your mind with. Be diligent in connecting to someone by phone or email. If at all possible, step outside at least once a day, even if it is to simply stand in the sunshine and listen for the birds for a few minutes. Lots of people are finding it meaningful to work on projects that we put off because we never have enough time. My daughter ordered glass jars and cute labels and finally organized her spices! Other people are trying their hand at a new hobby—learning a language or cooking a healthy new recipe or reading a new genre of books. I am exploring an online yoga class (which means that today I am really, really sore. Are they absolutely sure that our bodies are intended to stretch that way??!) Yes, these weeks are feeling long. Yes, I am as tired of being “cooped up” as you are. And yes, this, too, shall pass, and what will we have gained and learned from our experience? Will we be wiser about simple things we too often take for granted? Will we have gained a deeper appreciation for our families? For the medical staff and first-responders and government officials who serve our communities? For well-stocked grocery store shelves and open county libraries and parks? Will we think more carefully about the inequalities in our health care system? What will we have learned about spiritual practices that help us remain faithful and peaceful? In these trying days and weeks, friends, remember that God is near.
Grateful for you, Calvary Family,