God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!

As news about the coronavirus continued to unfold, I learned a lot.
I learned there are many prayers to pray and songs to sing while washing my hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.|
I learned I touch my face too much.
I learned some people buy more toilet paper than they need.
I learned a new phrase – social distancing. I learned it saves lives.
I learned – through many conversations this week –  how hard it is for a local church pastor to make the decision to not have in person Sunday morning worship aervices.
I learned how courageous pastors are in trying new and creative ways to tend to their communities. Livestreaming and Facebook live for the first time; a YouTube channel quickly assembled.          
I learned how generous church members are in giving their time and talent for the             development of worship experiences online.
I learned that – because of everyone’s hard, creative work – I could worship with literally             dozens of churches throughout the day. In my yoga pants.
I learned that when not going out for a few days I tend to wear the same comfortable             yoga pants for a long, long time. And I haven’t done much actual yoga.
I pray in this time that feels heavy and bizarre, we will continue to learn together and             open ourselves to all God desires to reveal to us.
It is no small thing to ponder what it means to be going through all of this during the             Lenten season. We have entered a wilderness not of our own choosing where we are called to rely not on our own power to save ourselves but on God alone who invites us to a glorious and new resurrection life. As Sister Joan Chittister writes, “Lent is a growing season. It requires us to determine what is worth dying for in our own lives and what it may be necessary for us to become if we want to live.”
I believe that in the months and years ahead, we will reflect back with greater perspective on all we learned during this season. For now, hold fast to the knowledge that God is with you. We are not alone! Thanks be to God!
And if there was ever a time for us to be gentle with one another, it is now. Many in our churches and community will know God is with them because of a phone call, a handwritten note, a gesture of kindness.
As we practice social distancing, may we deepen our practices of caring for one another in ways new and old. As Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky recently said, “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”
Stay encouraged! Teresa

The Beloved is our refuge and strength,
           a Loving Presence in times of trouble.
Therefore we need not fear though the earth should change;
There is a river whose streams make glad the Holy City,
            the holy habitation of the Most High.
The Beloved is in the midst of it,
            it shall not be moved;
  Our loving Creator is an ever-present help.
The Beloved is ever with you,
            the infinite Heart of Love.
“Be still and know that I am Love.
  Awaken! Befriend justice and mercy;
  Do you not know you bear my Love?
            Who among you will respond?
O Blessed One, You know all hearts,
            You are ever with us;
  may Love ever guide our lives!
            – Psalm 46 (selected verses; translation by Nan C. Merrill)

Jesus, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.”
At your command sick were made well.
Come to our aid now in the midst of the global spread of coronavirus, that we may encounter your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus.
May they regain there strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Remove our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Be with those who have died from the virus and let them know eternal peace.
Be with families who mourn that they know your consolation through the love of others.
Be with the first responders, doctors, nurses, technicians and all those who care for the ill that they may be protected.
Be with families as they cope with the added stresses of caring for one another.
Give each of us compassion and solidarity as we pass through these difficult times.
Jesus heal us!
            (Kerry Weber of America Magazine and alterations by d.hanus)