This a new addition to our website where we post inspirational messages for anyone that needs it during this time of crisis.
MAY 28, 2020
Lamentation in a Pandemic
From the Desk of Susan Henry-Crowe
It was a melancholy afternoon.
Two months ago, I would not have spent a Sunday afternoon driving through a deserted city. There were people out and about, walking with children in strollers, jogging, laughing. Some were driving to do errands and buy groceries. Although it was sunny, there was still a somber pall over the city. I am told the same is true of New York and Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and other cities.
As the days and weeks of sheltering (in some form or other) drag on, there is growing awareness of the enormous loss. Over 100,000 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus—and African Americans are dying at three times the rate of white people. Secondary schools, colleges and universities hold online commencement ceremonies for those who with internet access to participate.
Faith communities have not been able to gather in churches, mosques and temples for the holiest of days of each tradition. Few in-person funerals, weddings, and sabbath services are taking place. The disease is sweeping through prisons at alarming rates.
People of all ages are isolated and lonely—especially elderly persons who live alone. Many small businesses will never open again. Over thirty million people have lost their jobs and income. Even medical care professionals are losing their jobs. And in many rural areas there are no hospitals. Health care workers and facilities are gravely compromised because of insufficient supplies and PPE. Our sense of time has changed dramatically.
This is a great death.
It is not like the feeling that comes when one dies when one’s life is complete, accomplished, fulfilled and finished. This is a different dying and death.
It is death of life as we knew it. It is death of a world suffering from gut-wrenching loss.
This ravaging death came so unexpectedly. We were not unprepared—but then of course, there is no preparation for sudden death.
This sickness attacks the most vulnerable. It comes like a tsunami that washes away the pretense. It uncovers the things we have neglected. It reveals the pain, the suffering, the sorrow and the innocence of all who have pain. It causes even more pain for those who suffer most. This sickness came where there was no cure. There are no words for this great breath-taking disease.
And now we only feel sorrow. We can only lament. The whole of the Book of Lamentations gives expression to this deep sorrow and is a guide for us—the disaster, the personal and corporate lamentation, the reminder that we are God’s people.
We remember the most vulnerable.
We remember those without health care.
We remember communities of color most ravaged.
We remember children living in poverty.
We remember those in assisted living or nursing homes.
We remember those in prison.
We remember those suffering at the borders.
Reading from Lamentations
How lonely sits the city that was full of people. How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the cities has become a vassal.
Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my soul is in tumult, my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; In the house it is like death. Hear how I groan; there is none to comfort me. My heart is poured out in grief… (Lamentations 1:1-2, 21, 2:11)
What are we to do? Where are we to go? How are we to live in this time of unknowing, uncertainty, confusion, mixed messages and chaos? What songs do we sing, what prayers do we pray, how to we express our love for those we know and those we do not?
We are reminded of a Good Friday hymn, “Were You There?” The hymn ends with questions, not answers.
Likewise, the Book of Lamentations ends (5:20-22) not with clarity or resolve. Questioning it ends with a plea for divine remembrance and mercy. 
Hear its closing words:
Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us
Behold, and see our disgrace…
We have become orphans, fatherless;
Our mothers are like widows. …
But thou, O Lord, dost reign forever;
Thy throne endures to all generations.
Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old!
Or has thou utterly rejected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?
These last few lines desperately reach out to God to ask if everything will somehow be restored, or if it is simply too late. These closing lines depict for us a moment in which it seems that God broke God’s promise to God’s people, and the speakers of Lamentations seem to be in disbelief, unsure whether to accept their fate or hope that God will still prevail in Israel’s fate.  Lamentations honors what it means for an entire community to be devastated and think of itself as “God-abandoned.” 
In a moment where we ourselves may feel abandoned by God, we can gain strength and wisdom from Lamentations, and reach out to God for renewal and restoration in this world; even if our actions have merited God’s “anger,” we know our God whose “throne endures to all generations” to be merciful and lovingly kind.
But, as the actor, activist, and singer Paul Robeson reminds us, “There is a balm in Gilead.”
May 11, 2020
The Other Side of the Virus,
An Opportunity to Awaken…
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic-
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
– Written by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM, March 13th 2020
May 4, 2020
If a 99 Year Old Can Do This – so can WE. We pray you find hope and encouragement in Shirley’s story and prayer. Together we can get through this time!
Published by United Methodist Communications
A senior’s prayer for coronavirus:
I’m Shirley Bachelder and I live at the Steeplechase in Tennessee. I’m going to be 99 in the next couple of weeks. I wanted to report about this evil that is inhabiting the world. So, this is my little prayer.
Dear Lord and Father of us all,
Even by another name, we now know you as God, Ruler of the World and Creator of the Universe and our own Special Father. Hear our prayers. Hear the prayers of seniors, staff, workers and families at Steeplechase, Franklin, Tennessee. Hide us in the shadow of your wings. Make the fortress of our God our safety. Let us not be weary in loving one another, of taking precautions, of praying each day and praising you. You have control of even this evil day. Be with those desperate souls trying to fathom what they can do to kill the nucleus. Give comfort to those who panic easily. And make the days go quickly. Let us not forget to pray, not only for ourselves, but for those lonely people who are overwhelmed. And those who meet resistance in their work to overcome this disease. Help us not to be anxious about the future. Help to know that, in spite of all the negative vibes, that you are still able. In each life that my voice reaches, be assured that the least among us that the coronavirus will be overcome. That those who die will find a loving hand to guide them to the promised Heaven. They will not be alone, but will have joy unspeakable. Bless us here, we ask humbly, not because we deserve it but because we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.
With love and bless again, Shirley.
Shirley Bachelder is no stranger to UMC.org. She’s been featured in several articles, including the story of her “Love One Another” billboard, which went viral. Now, just two weeks before she turns 99, this United Methodist is hoping to spread another message in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. As in all things, Bachelder is quick to downplay any credit for her work and this prayer is no different. “I wrote it,” she says, “but God guides me in everything.”
APRIL 13, 2020 BY STACY PIERCE (MICHIGAN, USA)
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
— Isaiah 40:31
I’ve always enjoyed helping the elderly — helping them do things that are easy and normal for most, listening to the stories of their lives, watching them tell a story and their faces light up with delight. Now with the world turned upside down by COVID-19 my clients’ demeanor has changed. They struggle with everyday life. They’ve been told they can’t go visit friends. They are scared to go to the grocery store for everyday items. They long for companionship and someone to help make sense of it all. The stories I hear from them now are about the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu in 1918. Their faces are filled with uncertainty and fear. Some ask if this is a sign of end times. I calmly say “I don’t know, but if you would like, we can pray together.” Sometimes they pray with me. Sometimes I’m the one leading the prayer. After the “Amen” is said, I can see they are more at ease. Some cry. Some hug me. Either way, they all tell me how I’ve helped calm their fears in this time of uncertainty — how just listening has helped them feel more at ease. What they don’t know is how they have helped me too. After leaving a client, I feel uplifted. I will cherish all of the moments I’ve shared with others during this time and will continue to try to be a beacon of God’s light.
We’re all in this together. Now is the time to be a community. Now is the time to reach out to the most vulnerable and show God’s love.
Prayer: God I thank you for putting me in the right place at the right time. I thank you for the courage and perseverance you’ve given me during this time. I pray for all the people who have been called to the front lines during this time. I pray you give them comfort and peace. Hold them in your arms so they can feel your love. I pray for those infected with this virus. I pray they receive your comfort, for you are the Mighty Healer. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
AND what are YOU, members and friends of Laurel doing?
The ladies of Stitch N’ Go are not idle! Over the last several weeks, this is what we’ve been up to in support of missions and supporting each other:
—Making masks for family and friends; a nursing home; the Medical Outreach Center (approx. 100); and a local business owner (60 for the employees)
—Crocheting Easter baskets, filling with candy and placing in one of the micro food pantries.
—Crocheting Ear guards for those who wear masks, to ease the pressure on the ears.
— Cutting and sewing diapers, cutting quilt strips and sewing quilts, as well as sewing kimonos, dresses, hospital outfits and school bags for the Midwest Mission Center.
—Trimming, scoring and crocheting the edges of fleece blankets.
—Knitting hats and making baby blankets
—Sewing 100 surgical caps for kids at St Johns
—Sending notes, sending emails and calling friends during this time of social distancing
—Collecting items for Helping Hands
Words of Hope During COVID-19
Claire McKeever-Burgett, Associate Director of The Academy for Spiritual Formation at The Upper Room, invites us to turn the simple act of handwashing into a sacrament of healing and hope. Our hands are extensions of our hearts, she says. Join her in praying this Blessing of the Hands—through this prayer you will bless your own hands and the hands of many others.
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
—1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NRSV)
God, who is both Father and Mother, I give thanks for your unconditional love, protection, and guidance. May it be so. Amen.