We must also look out for our neighbors

Guest Column By Pastor Carol Rhan
Thursday, March 19, 2020
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“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV

​These are not trite words we read and repeat during troubling times like war, natural disasters and pandemics. These are the living and loving inspired words of Jesus Christ. Yet, these words do not promise cures and paychecks, childcare or jobs. What these words promise is comfort and peace and the strength to accept and hopefully overcome whatever troubles us. They remind us that God is not absent in this coronavirus emergency that is traveling throughout His kingdom. We are not alone as humans and most importantly, this does not separate us from God’s love.

​The expression, “This too shall pass,” is a simplistic interpretation of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. But it’s meaning is clear: we will get through this period of sacrifice. Even as we, and many of our neighbors and families, will be called to forego great or small comforts we have, even good health. We are not alone. And we can do something about it!

​James 2:17, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead,” reminds us that faith, lived out through praying, as we are called and encouraged to do now more than ever, is an insufficient demonstration of our faith. We must also act! And our actions begin at home and go throughout the entire community. I won’t repeat what you should already know and can read on the CDC website or state and local offices. But we must look out for our neighbors as ourselves.

​First, we begin by not hoarding material goods. This must stop along with any price gouging or taking advantage of this situation and our fears. When Jesus fed 5000 with bits of bread and fish, the people did not claim for themselves whatever they had, they shared it. This is faith in action.

​Second, we must stay close to one another in any way possible. Check on a shut-in, send cards and make phone calls. Do not assume that someone else is or will do it. You may turn enemies into allies and friends into loved ones through simple acts of mercy.

​Third, individually and as small group of friends, partner with others to ease the anxieties, fears, and sacrifices of others. Here at Glendive United Methodist Church, we have committed to be a “go-to” place for help with supplemental food (after the Food Bank), assistance with prescriptions and mitigating disruptions for our children. While we have limited financial resources, when all other outlets have been exhausted, we will continue to help for as long as we can.

​And finally, I encourage you to reduce the amount of time you spend listening to and reading on social media about this pandemic. Schedule downtime to breathe, play, and find joy wherever you can.

May you feel God’s comfort and peace now and in the coming weeks and months.

Reach Pastor Carol Rhan at umcglen@midrivers.com.