That Hard Place

That Hard Place

That Hard Place
I don’t like pain.  I read a situation, analyze all the trajectories and options and work overtime to figure out how to get through things without causing pain to anyone. Sometimes you can’t. I hate that!

Let’s flatten the curve.   It is the phrase of the week.  And it is good.  It reminds us that if CoVid-19 spreads too fast and too widely we’ll have more people seriously ill than our medical supplies, personnel and equipment can handle.  In its absolutely worse case scenario what happens when there are not enough ICU rooms or ventilators. That is a caution we are hearing.  Fear can’t be our driver.  Nor can complacency.  So we take extreme efforts to spread out the disease so that we lessen the chance that our medical system will be overwhelmed.

But that comes with a cost too.   Schools are closed for an extended amount of time and families have to figure out what to do.  Workers who live on part time or hourly income with limited health and sick time face a critical loss of income.  Folks depending on meal programs and food pantries face a possible additional challenge to their food insecurity. 
Neither choice comes without pain.   And I’m not a fan of the simplicity of either or choices. 
We’ve been developing resources to help churches understand the scope of this pandemic challenge.  We’ve offered the advice to suspend in person worship and provided resources for alternatives.   We’ve cancelled Conference sponsored programs and closed our offices.  We’ve encouraged the common sense of washing hands, don’t touch your face and keep social distance.   Check out our webpage and our Disaster Response webpages

That still doesn’t prevent the pain. But this is where churches can be at their best.   You are a source of practical and spiritual grounding and support for your community; both within and beyond your church.   And you, oh Church of Jesus Christ, oh people of the Body of Christ, throughout history and in disasters past you have risen because your follow the Risen One. 

So let’s get moving:  If people can’t or shouldn’t get to your food pantry, how will you get it to them.  How can you receive requests for help and package and deliver it?  How will you keep your stocks full?  If people can’t come to your community meals, how will you prepare and deliver meals to those who need them, particularly families with kids who were depending on school meals?  If you don’t know them, I’ll bet your school department or the VNA would welcome your help. 

If kids will be home schooled with online classes how might your church help those families who may not have the computer technology, expertise or internet connection to keep their kids learning?  Again, I’ll bet the schools department might have ideas.

How about families who need childcare help when schools are closed.  How might you work with community agencies and safe childcare policies to help fill the gap?

How about folks whose businesses close or they end up quarantined. What happens if they are part time or hourly employees who just lost their income.  How can you work with your community agencies and resources to provide support to them and their expenses? 

What about people’s anxieties, worries and fears.  How do you use your resources to provide online opportunities for your community to gather in mutual support, resource education, and prayer?

And, God forbid, if it gets to the point where there is not enough life saving resources and equipment to go around how will you provide spiritual and practical support to those who face hard decisions?   Some of those decisions will be out of their control.  And some of those people will be the doctors, nurses and medical help who have to make and live with those choices.   How will you minister to them?

Medical debt is a focus of our Conference.  It is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in this country.   And this pandemic will stretch that further.  The work your are doing with our Conference and RIP Medical Debt relief is a tangible way to ease this burden now and in the years that will be coming. 

As I have worked with disasters over the years, there has been one consistent observation.  Churches were typically among the first to respond and the last to leave.  Long after media moved onto to other stories, churches were there on the ground.  They knew their people.  They knew their communities. 

You know your people.   You know your communities. 
Yes, there is no way to avoid the pain.   That was never the aim of Christ.  It certainly isn’t the lesson of Lent and Holy Week and Easter.   And we know that well.  We know about hope, compassion and presence.   We know how to live the love and justice of Jesus.  Let’s show em.


Don H. Remick

Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister.

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