|Grace-filled people of Grace Lutheran,
On this Monday of the 5th week in Lent, this message is sent with prayers and concern for your spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. It contains: 1) some encouragement from scripture; 2) a theological reflection by pastor, mother, professor, author and theologian, Karen Bloomquist; 3) a link for helpful information from Benton County Emergency Operations Center, and 4) links from our State Senator, congressman, and U.S. Senator to helpful recovery programs for small businesses and 501 ( c ) (3) non-profits. So, pick and glean what is helpful to you or might be helpful for friends and family. We are here for you during this ongoing time of doing what we can to stay safe but still serve our neighbor in need.
Psalm 143 is the appointed Psalm for today
from the Daily Lectionary (found in the back of our hymnals, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, pp. 1121-1150).
Verse 11 reads:
“For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life.
In your righteousness bring me out of trouble.”
You might also find this prayer from our hymnal helpful:
“Merciful God, you teach us in your holy word that you do not willingly afflict or grieve your children. Look with pity on us in our time of sorrow. Remember us in mercy. Strengthen us in patience, comfort us with the memory of your goodness, let your presence shine on us, and give us peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.” ELW, p. 63
Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.
What this pandemic evokes
In the midst of this global pandemic, how might we think about God or the divine? Not as causing this or saving or rescuing us from this unknown “enemy,” but as empowering compassion, creativity, and innovative human action in the midst of this crisis. Not that we succumb to fear and hopelessness but that we act in the face of such. This is quite different from superficial optimism or turning away from what is occurring, but in ways that are informed by and directed by data, science and good practices. God is community, active in and through human communities, as they together stand with those who are suffering, fearful and anxious. This now is done virtually, coming together ironically by staying apart physically. As a theologian-at-large, I am aware that many do not image or think of God in this way, but the essence of the divine is in how this empowers or inspires compassionate reaching out to connect with others, with love and justice. God is creativity itself and inspires human creativity, even for those who are skeptical about “God.”
How might this be sustained after the crisis of this pandemic passes? “Wellness” is more than what individuals do for themselves; it is societal, even global. Embodiment and human touch are crucial. Priority must be on those who are most vulnerable. A new sense of the public good might emerge.
Written by Karen Bloomquist, 3/28/20
(your perspectives and sharing this with others are welcome)
Perhaps some of you have already been sewing masks for Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. If not and you’re interested in doing so, you can find step-by-step instructions at this Benton County website. Also on this website are links to help you find assistance if needed, or to help you make needed donations or volunteer opportunities if you are so inclined.
Also, please note that later this week you will be receiving the April issue of Grace Gatherings. In it you will find a letter from Rebekah Hadlock on how you can help public school children and families in need of food assistance.
State Senator (and Grace member) Sara Gelser shares:
Are you a self-employed person or looking for assistance for your Small Business as a result of the COVID emergency? My brother James Acres (Encinitas, California) made this VIMEO to explain how to apply for a grant of up to $10,000 or a loan of up to $2million, who is eligible, and what you can use it for. Thank you, James, for sending this my way to share with my constituents!
Congressman Peter DeFazio shares multiple resources through this link:
Finally, from Senator Jeff Merkley:
PLEASE SHARE: I’ve just launched “Operation: Main Street,” an online economic recovery hub to help Oregon businesses and 501(c)(3)s get emergency aid:
As programs come online, this portal will be updated with new information and specifics about how and where to access these funds. For now, the hub shares answers to frequently asked questions my team and I are receiving about what’s in the bill for businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, and what we know so far about eligibility and application details. We will get our communities through this crisis together. Thank you for all that you all are doing to flatten the curve and support our health care workers by staying in and isolating. Stay well and healthy.