November 20, 2020

Most of us are feeling Pandemic fatigue as “the most wonderful time of the year” is almost upon us. We’ve lost so much in the last 9 months, including many personal freedoms we took for granted, like being in public without a single thought about face masks, shaking hands and hugging friends, singing together. Compared to the loss of life, these are small things. But the cumulative impact of the small and huge things weighs us down. Things are not going in the way we had hoped at the worst possible time of the year when so many traditions are communal in nature. 

In an article titled, “This Thanksgiving Choose Love” (The Northern Virginia Daily, 2020/11/17) Connie Schultz wrote, “Through all of my years as a columnist, I have tried to find signs of hope. I have never wanted to be that finger-wagging naysayer on the mountaintop, telling other people how to behave. This is different. I’m not telling you. I’m begging you. Please, we must do all that we can to protect one another. We have to cancel the family gatherings…This is the year to focus on the gratitude part of Thanksgiving. Let’s start with the people we love. Not tolerate. Love. Make that list, and then ask yourself, “Which of these people am I willing to lose?” Do the right thing. I’m begging you.” (Read the full article at https://www.nvdaily.com/nvdaily/connie-schultz-this-thanksgiving-choose-love/article_8c9ad273-45da-52d9-b8f0-c71fe66b980e.html)

One of the most vulnerable moments in any sport is when you’ve just scored the go-ahead goal. You and your teammates use that extra burst of adrenaline to celebrate, hugging, high-fiving, chest butting, and voices rejoicing. And then…that sneaky opponent gets the ball, dribbles down the field, and scores the tying goal. Utterly shocked and exhausted, one bad pass, and they score again as the final whistle blows. You’ve been defeated by your own premature celebration. 

I’ve spent the past 14 days dealing with allergy-aggravated asthma. This is not pleasant. I can’t begin to imagine COVID-19 on top of this. I am aware of my vulnerability in a new and deeper way. In the past 9 months, I’ve made personal decisions that have increased my risk. Perhaps you have also. I have avoided big rallies, parties, going without a mask, being a part of gatherings that are unmasked. But with those I most trust, who are also those I most love and miss, I make exceptions. In those circumstances, I assume some risk to myself and also to those around me. Each of us, as individuals and as the communities we are a part of – families, friends, schools, and congregations – needs to seriously weigh the risks we take, and remain vigilant. 

If you are reading this, you are one of the people who has dodged COVID-19 so far, or one of the fortunate ones who had a mild case. We are up by one goal. We are in later minutes of the game and before too long vaccines can go into the game as our goal keepers. But one unguarded moment can change the outcome of the game. Vigilance is our responsibility and love’s greatest concern.

Play with perseverance, the game that is set before us. (AFC paraphrase of Hebrews 12:1) ~ Anne

PS – sent by Abbe Kennedy:

A Prayer for Putting on a Face Mask

Creator God, as I prepare to go into the world, help me to see the sacramental nature of wearing this cloth. Let it be a tangible and visible way of living life for my neighbors as myself.

Christ Jesus, since my lips will be covered, uncover my heart, that people would see my smile in the crinkles around my eyes. Since my voice may be muffled, help me to speak clearly, not only with my words, but with my actions.

Holy Spirit, as elastic touches my ears, remind me to listen carefully and caringly to all those I meet. May this simple piece of cloth be shield and banner, and may each breath that it holds, be filled with your love, In Your name and in that love, I pray. Amen. (Rev. Richard Bott, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Canada.)

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