From December 28 through January 3, Guy Newland will be the contact person in lieu of Drew: (firstname.lastname@example.org, 989.944.0534). There will be no Minister’s Column on December 31.
One of the most moving things I heard this week was the news report of the first COVID vaccination being delivered in England. On the radio broadcast, we hear the voice of the nurse saying, “All done!” and then the applause of a small group of people in the elder care facility where it took place. I had tears of joy in my eyes.
This is the sign of hope that we’ve been waiting for, the concrete step that shows this pandemic is finally going to end. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. In some months, enough of us will be vaccinated that we can see each other again: in families, groups of friends, and gatherings of our congregation.
And, it’s going to be a long tunnel.
Experts say that it will be not spring but summer before enough people are vaccinated that we can really control the virus. They say that wearing masks may be advisable in some circumstances even after that. I don’t know how successful the government and the public health system will be in the huge effort to vaccinate millions of people. Certainly, some will resist getting the vaccine, and there will be struggles (both political and social)l over this disease for many months to come. In the short term, the spike is higher than ever and hospital beds are filling up. Social gatherings for Christmas, cold winter weather, and seasonal flu may all contribute to a worsening health crisis in the next few months.
In light of all this, the Fellowship’s virus task force met this week and decided to take a step back in our stance toward COVID: we were allowing a few small groups to gather in the Fellowship Hall but that is cancelled; everyone who enters the building for any reason is reminded to wear a mask at all times. The board of trustees had already voted to have Sunday worship online only through May. General Assembly in June has recently been moved to online only as well.
I feel a strange mixture of optimism and dread at this moment in the pandemic. I feel like we all need to hunker down and survive the winter, hoping for better things in the months that follow. As we do, we will need each other for support more than ever.
Spirit of Life and Love, may the health care workers be safe and well. May they find the rest they need at the end of their long hospital shifts.
May the elders find hope as they take their place in the front of the vaccine line. May those in the middle and the back of the line find patience as they wait their turn.
Loving and merciful God, may we all find strength to endure this winter. May we find the compassion and the will to reach out to one another in kindness; may we be creative in forming community and connection while staying safe.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
“When I move from struggle and control to observation and wonder, I begin to learn.”
I found these words in one of the wisdom books that I turn to for inspiration and grounding: “Native Wisdom for White Minds” by Anne Wilson Schaef. The author frames this concept around nature and gardening: she tells about fighting a fast-growing “weed” on her property, only to realize that it was serving a useful function.
Where am I experiencing struggle? What am I trying to control in my life? How might I re-frame these things through the lens of observation and wonder? I would invite all of us to consider these questions.
For me, two things come up that I am trying to control—and feeling the struggle of doing so. Both are negative: systemic racism and the global pandemic. Really big things! Can observation and wonder contribute to my anti-racist work? Yes, if I seek to notice racism and white supremacy: in myself, in my close circle, my wider community, and society at large. Noticing means opening my eyes to the racist attitudes and behaviors that are the water I’m swimming in. And then, I can begin to learn.
I am struggling with this pandemic also, and wishing I had some control. I suppose that an attitude of wonder might mean leaning into this moment. This is an unprecedented moment of confronting a common natural enemy, which affords the opportunity to come together in common purpose, common action, and common compassion. I am optimistic that new federal leadership and the promise of a vaccine in 2021 will allow us to pull together for a difficult winter of isolation. It will take all of our spiritual discipline and all of the loving community we can muster to succeed. And we will learn a lot in doing so.
In thinking about these things and my attitude towards them, another piece of wisdom comes to mind: the Serenity Prayer.
May we have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Monday
Pastoral Care Concerns
For support with life's challenges, please contact Drew during his office hours or make an appointment with him.
For specific needs such as rides to medical appointments or meals for people recovering from illness or surgery, please contact the Arms Around team via Gisela Moffit at email@example.com or 989-772-1602. Every effort will be made to lessen the burden on the individual or family who is dealing with a difficult circumstance.