“UGH!!!” was the one-word response someone sent me . . . oops that was last week’s musings. But if I am being honest it could be used again this week too. If I did not know better, I would think that I had been transported to an alternate version of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” where the main character keeps reliving the same day over and over again.
This week, like each week for the past almost 8 months, we are faced with many uncertainties. The news is full of stories about rising infection rates and more areas of Illinois being placed under increased mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, this week includes the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November . . . Election Day. And these are just the top items on most news broadcasts today.
Yet, even in this time of uncertainties and increased anxieties the words of the prophet Isaiah speak across the ages: The grass withers, the flower fades;but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8 NRSV)
As uncertain as things are, we know that God’s Word stands forever.
It is visible in the many ways that people are reaching out and caring for each other during these challenging times. Neighbors helping each other in large ways and in small ways. Whether assembling hygiene kits to assist those impacted by disasters or collecting recyclable Styrofoam to prevent it from being put in landfills, individuals and congregations throughout the region are demonstrating that God’s love and Word have not faded.
Instead of waiting for “normal” to return or the “new normal” to arrive, people are adapting and caring for those in need in the present moment. There are people in our communities who are hungry and congregations are feeding them. There are families around us who are thirsty and congregations are giving them something to drink. There are neighbors who are strangers and congregations are inviting them in. There are individuals who need clothes and congregations are clothing them. There are people who are sick or in prison and congregations are visiting them.
The way we do this sometimes looks different in 2020, but the sharing of God’s love is the same. This means when we are not able to gather for a monthly meal because of limits on the size of groups, we transition to a drive thru pickup meal instead. And when we are not able to gather around the table for communion, we adapt with some congregations delivering individual communion elements to homes while others invite people to use the bread and cup they have available where they are.
It is wonderful to hear these stories of the many ways that congregations are reaching out during challenging times. These are not the stories collected over months instead these are the stories shared from conversations over Zoom this week or reading a recent congregational newsletter.
Whether it is an election day or a normal Tuesday or the endless cycle of “Groundhog Day”, the amazing ministries people are engaging in show the world that while
The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8 NRSV)
May the peace of Christ be with you this day and every day!
Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II
Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois