2/16/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

Dear Siblings in Christ:

This week’s text from Genesis tells the story of Joseph being willing to forgive and help his brothers even though they tried to kill him. It’s a heck of a plot twist. However, this time, what stood out was why the brothers needed help in the first place

When we meet Joseph and his brothers, there had already been a famine for two years, but it wasn’t even half done. I’m sure they were all tired of it and exhausted, at this point. Their suffering had to have been immense. I’m sure they were hoping things would turn around soon. 

But Joseph knew differently. They still had five years of famine left. The foreground of this scripture is rooted in the background of the story. Joseph offered grace and an opportunity. To make it through, they were going to have to adjust, come together, and live with the reality of the famine.

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one our slowly, too.

We’re a little past two years since we first heard about this mysterious respiratory disease that spread easily, resisted most treatment, and could be deadly within days. Even though the world has pulled together in some fantastic ways to seek out cures and treatments, the suffering has been horrendous. 

Our pre-existing fractures have become magnified and amplified, too. The civil war for our collective soul has led us to see any fact or opinion from “the other side” as a potential trojan horse. International healthcare inequity has led to the emergence of deadly variants. Unequal expectations of the balance between rights and duties have led to a hoarding of rights by some and additional burdens for others. 

Now, there’s lots of talk about moving from the pandemic stage to the endemic stage. There’s not universal agreement about whether or not we’re there, yet, but even the conversation signifies a change in our relationship with the virus. 

Pandemics are the early stages when we’re learning a lot and have to be on guard – all the time – to prevent its spread. When a disease is regarded as endemic, we can discern a pattern to the disease and, more or less, adjust. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be significant outbreaks at times due to variants, seasons, gatherings, or other conditions. However, in the endemic stage, surprises become rarer and rarer as we learn how to adjust our behavior, medical interventions, and practices.

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one our slowly, too.

I’ve used the weather analogy several times when writing about the pandemic. In the early days, it felt as though we had to be ready for all kinds of weather all the time. Now, we’re starting to move into a more seasonal-like expectation. It’s similar to making sure sweaters are available in the fall and shorts are available in the summer. It doesn’t mean that there might not be a random 80-degree day in February or a freak snowstorm in July. It’s just that these things are less likely. Generally speaking, we have a range we can expect.

A greater range of predictability will mean we might even get to actually plan a little further out once again. There is a two-month off, two-month on cycle for the virus that’s holding up more often than not. We’re getting close to a point where we might be able to plan weeks of worship in our sanctuaries, singing, and having potlucks together. And, we might be able to plan weeks of needing to gather virtually, wearing masks, and determining whether or not we want our camera on our off when having a bit of a snack. 

We will have to continue to become better at figuring out ways to include those who can’t be physically present because the immunocompromised people are still at high risk. We will have to continue to develop ways to treat personal space as a sort of sanctuary space that individuals get to define based on the realities of their life. We’ll have to continue considering how to make our building supplements to our mission instead of objects of it. Until a cure or universal vaccine is found – and we might actually be pretty close – we’ll continue integrating COVID into how we act and adjust our behaviors. 

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one our slowly, too.

I know the weight of this time has been hard for all of us. In particular, the emergence of omicron really seemed to be the last straw. I heard that from many of you. Me, too. I felt a new level of brokenness, languishing, and sadness that seemed reflective of the rest of the world.

At the same time, it’s feeling as though a different level of acceptance is breaking through, too. We just don’t always like what we have to accept. Still, you all have done so well during this pandemic season. Amazingly well. You’ve adjusted, adapted, supported, shared, reached out, reached in, encouraged, and persevered. We’re moving from the point of having to do this with an exhausting, sustained urgency to considering how to have sustainable energy that prepares us for times of urgency. That’s progress.

We’ll need some of that time of rest for our bodies and souls but the work of recovery and restoration is something we need to do together. Interestingly, many of the basic principles of trauma-informed care reflect many of those things we lift up as values of our church communities: safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment. All of these are relationally based values that are sacred for many of us.

We need rest. We need each other. Our mission is to serve and love God and God’s people and our recovery will come from serving and loving God and God’s people. Sometimes we will be the person serving and other times we will be the person served. These roles are situational but vocational, too. We’re called to serve and love. We’re called to be served and loved.

As we live into these coming days, may we continue to be open to God’s Spirit moving through us, between us, and within us. May we continue to be open to the calling to serve and love God and God’s people.

With hope,

Mike

——–

Rev. Mike Denton: Conference Minister of The ​Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Church of Christ

You can give to the ministries of the Pacific Northwest Conference by going to www.pncucc.org and clicking on the “Donate” button​.​

Follow me on Twitter @denton_rev

2 thoughts on “2/16/22 PNC COVID-19 Update

  1. Dear Mike, This is such a helpful insight. Thank you. Five more years or fifty more years. we are called to love God and each other. Mary Margaret Pruitt

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