Covid-19 disease continues to spread, thousands of people around the world are dying, New York City has become an epi-center of the virus in the United States, and today we received word that over 3 million Americans are now unemployed. We are all asked to stay at home for an indefinite period of time in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. Our health care workers, who are indeed our heroes, are stretched to the limit without protective equipment, and ventilators are in short supply.
The words of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” brings me comfort and hope.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for
your faith in God’s excellent word! What more can be
said than to you God hath said, to you who for refuge
to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am
thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee,
help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my
righteous omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers
of sorrow shall not overflow; for I will be near thee, thy
trouble to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
God will indeed bless our troubles. Perhaps this tragic pandemic is a new beginning for us as a nation. A nation where we will remember that we are all equal and interconnected. That our families and our communities are more precious to us than our possessions. That our health systems must work for all of us or we will all suffer. That love, patience and empathy are life giving and greed, selfishness, and panic are life denying. Phyllis Tickle, author, sociologist, university professor, has written about a movement we had begun to see in our religious life – emerging Christianity. Her book, The Great Emergence, describes how every 500 years the church goes through a major upheaval/division/crisis. During those times of crisis, the church is confronted with making choices about the “way we have always practiced our faith” with how we might change as we move into the future. The church has been struggling with this issue for several decades now, as mainline denominations have experienced a decline in membership. When you are in the midst of the crisis or storm, it is difficult to see what is on the other side when the storm subsides. So, while many folks have written about the emerging church, we have not been able to see our way through this chasmic change.
I don’t know what life will look like after this pandemic passes into the history books. What I am certain of is that it will pass and the world that will be left to us will look considerably different. Perhaps we will have the gift of being able to re-shape our life together. The church, with our message of God’s love and grace and Jesus Christ’s teachings, will have a crucial voice in helping us to re-shape our future. Maybe the church has been struggling with the mechanics of our faith and we now have an opportunity to witness to the heart of our faith.
“that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
Reverend debbie osterhoudt
I am very excited to join in the ministry at Peace Presbyterian Church as interim pastor! I graduated from Vanderbilt University and received my Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA. Before serving at Peace Presbyterian, I served in Triangle area churches as pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor for 33 years. I have a passion for my ministry and study, travel, walking, sailing (which I learned from my father) and gardening.