March 26, 2020

DEVOTION

by Rev. Elizabeth Henry, Millsaps College
Thriving in Ministry Program Director, Associate Chaplain for Wesleyan Student Ministries

A few weeks ago, I sat in the small black box theater at Belhaven University as students performed “The Women of Lockerbie,” a play based on the true story of one of the first instances of modern terrorism—the bombing of an international commercial flight. The shrapnel of the plane rained down on the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland, changing the lives of the people there forever. The locals worked together to collect the remains of those killed in the attack, and the women of the town continued to work for years collecting and lovingly cleaning the belongings of those killed so that they could return them to the families who would never have the closure of burying their loved ones. In the play, one of the women explains their devotion to this ministry saying, “When evil comes into the world, it is the job of the witness to turn it into love.”

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in our world may not be evil, but it is certainly a source of great fear, pain, and suffering. It not only threatens the physical health of many, but it is also disrupting the social, financial, and emotional wellbeing of many more. We find ourselves in shock, hardly able to process the statistics and warnings and news stories that are constantly raining down upon us. And yet, as we witness this great pain in the world, we are invited to turn it into love. As Christian witnesses, it is our job to turn it into love.

In this present moment we can turn the pain to love by staying home and honoring social distancing guidelines to avoid spreading disease to vulnerable neighbors. We can share physical and financial resources with those suffering from lack of access to necessities. We can reach out via phone and internet to those feeling cutoff and lonely. We can pray for one another in the midst of it all. We can love one another well, even as God loves us. We are not alone. Ours is a God skilled at turning pain to love.

March 19, 2020

DEVOTION

by Mike Hicks, Executive Director of the Untied Methodist Foundation

Romans 1:11
For I long to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift, to strengthen and establish you;
Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

I have always enjoyed the many books by David McCullough. He is an excellent writer for someone, who loves to read about history. His book on John Adams is one of the best I have ever read. I recently read, THE PIONEERS: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, published by Simon & Schuster. I really thought I was going to be reading about the west as we think about it in movies and television. It was actually about pioneers moving into what is now Ohio.

The time of the migration was a long and dangerous journey from the known into the unknown. People perished from drought, flood, disease and altercations with Native Americans. Some made return journeys to the east, but most never saw their family or friends in the east again. Postal service was non-existent for many years.

We are in a new world in the midst of COVID-19. Social distancing and isolation are our new norm. I never would have believed that Belk would close its doors for a season or public schools would be shuttered for an extended period. And what about our churches? No gatherings for weeks. I can begin to relate to Paul’s desire to see the people of the church in Rome face to face. But he did do the next best thing.

We have an advantage over the western pioneers and Paul. We can mail cards and letters to family and friends. We can even speak with them by phone. We also can talk and see them almost face to face with a variety of electronic helps.

I encourage you to use our longing for contact to become action. Send notes of encouragement. Call someone and chat. Join in worship electronically. Use the tools we have to share spiritual gifts and encouragement. Strengthen one another in this time of anxiety.