I’m not TRYING to complain…

Honestly, I’m not. I’m counting my blessings daily. And there are a lot of them. And some of them are you – who give this blog purpose by reading it, engaging with me about it and by trying to incorporate the things I encourage in these posts into your life of faith. That means the world to me.

But a couple of my colleagues posted an article on Facebook today that I think needs to be shared. You can read it here. I’ll warn you that it’s not easy reading.

I want to say a couple of things about this.

First, I want you to know I am not having suicidal ideation. I have been through a season(s) in ministry in the past, in which suicidal thoughts plagued me, but this isn’t one of them. I want to be clear about that.

The article is written from an American Baptist perspective. I am a Canadian Presbyterian minister. Some of what is in this article simply doesn’t translate to my context. Sees

One of those daily blessings that I count is living in Canada – we aren’t perfect, but I think we are more moderate in our reactions to many things, and our first wave of COVID-19 is now on the slow-burn level. As far as I know, there has been no death-threat, leaving-threat, kicking-down-the-door-of-the-office threats leveled at my colleagues or myself as we wade through the murky waters of “safely reopening” our buildings for Sunday worship. (And our leadership, in this country, has proven to be careful and considered, no matter where your political affiliation falls…which means that we don’t have the same kind of pressures that plague our American neighbours right now.)

Another of those daily blessings I count is that I’m Presbyterian and Presbyterians have a lot of systems in place that make it impossible to simply “fire the pastor.” There are processes that all involved would have to go through in order to remove a minister from their congregation in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, which discourage the knee-jerk firing that sometimes happens to pastors in other denominations.

None of the congregations I know have had a death from COVID-19 among their active members. Certainly not from gathering together and flaunting health measures. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen here, I’m saying to the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t happened here yet.

And that’s the point.

That little three-letter word, “yet.” It is the word that haunts my nightmares and the nightmares of my colleagues. Most of us carry a weight of anxiety that is largely unseen by our flock as we move toward re-starting in-person worship in September. We are exhausted by the worry of putting our people in a situation that could lead to spread of this virus. We are anxious about someone getting sick from attending worship. Many of us can’t even talk about the possibility of a member of our congregations dying after contracting the virus at worship. We are trying to figure out how to manage that anxiety.

For myself, I know that part of dealing with all of this, is simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. The only way out is through. (Though I should say that the Session and Board of my congregation struck a steering committee to carefully plan a whole whack of health measures for in-person worship, and I am deeply grateful that they have been very considerate when I said I was uncomfortable with one option or another.)

But I write all of this because I think there is something YOU can do to help your pastor. In fact, there are MANY somethings you can do.

You can be kind. That’s probably one of the most important. Be kind. Keep the criticism to yourself. Be an encourager. Let the little things go.

You can pray. That’s super important, too. Pray that your minister knows the comforting presence of God in these uncertain days, pray for the leadership of your church, pray for the finances, pray for the shut-ins, pray for the secretary and the music director, pray for the custodian, pray for the volunteers. PRAY.

Support the church. In whatever way you can. If you have some extra funds, give. If you can volunteer to help with some of the measures brought in by the leadership of your congregation, volunteer. If you can reach out to members over the phone to listen to them and let them know they are cared for, do it. Whatever you are able to do to help your church, support it.

I’m feeling a little exposed and worried about even posting this. I’m feeling anxious. But the only way out is through. So here we go.

And until tomorrow, dear friends, keep following Jesus, keep trusting God, keep making your way through.

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