“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1 NRSV)
On March 12 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the Coronavirus to be a pandemic.
On March 16, 2020 the province of Ontario recommended the closure of all recreation programs, libraries, private schools, daycares, and churches and other faith settings.
This week we commemorate the one year anniversary of the Coronavirus pandemic, an event that has changed lives worldwide. It simply repeats the obvious to try and recount how different the world is today from a year ago and how uncertain the future remains, even with a vaccine. This truly is a once in a century event.
How will you commemorate this anniversary in your congregations?
On January 19 2021, then president elect Joe Biden held a memorial service for the 400,000+ COVID 19 deaths in America. This event was notable as the first national memorial and opportunity to grieve as a response to this pandemic. Many in our communities and congregations have similarly not had the opportunity to grieve:
- The death of loved ones
- The long lasting effects, even if loved ones have recovered
- The loss of jobs
- The loss of celebrations; birthdays, weddings, graduations and the like
- The lack of contact with loved ones including being together in church
- A world that will never exactly be the same again.
Many in our virtual pews are tired of hearing about COVID week after week, sermon after sermon. Still, I believe that this Sunday or next it is worth taking some time to acknowledge this milestone. Perhaps in prayer, or a litany, or candles lit for loved ones. This is a chance to remember and acknowledge our grief and loss.
This remembrance is also the opportunity to remember God’s faithfulness. Over this past year we have seen unbelievable acts of selfless service, kindness and care. This is God’s work.
At the same time even the most faithful among us can be excused for wondering where God is in a time like this. Often we can see God’s hand most clearly in the rear view mirror; after the event rather than during. To be able to recognize and celebrate God’s loving presence even in our darkest day is a powerful statement of faith and hope.
Professor Sharon Warkinton Short writes of ‘The Story that Grew; the Metanarrative of Scripture as Recounted by Storytellers in the Bible.’ She points out that at significant events in the life of God’s people, the leaders tell the story of their relationship with God from the beginning. “When we were slaves in Egypt” the story begins and recounts all of the ways God has cared for God’s people – up to the events of the moment which are then incorporated into God’s big story. As we commemorate this dramatic milestone, let us remember and grieve where we have been and incorporate this story of God’s care as a part of our faith story of hope and love.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)