We are a community of women, created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That much has not changed. But oh! So much else has changed as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world.
At least one-fifth of the U.S. population has been ordered to shelter at home. Worship, reunions, block parties, and social gatherings have been canceled in most locations. Schools are closed, and schooling takes place at home and with e-learning options. Non-essential businesses are closed. We even have new words and phrases added to our everyday vocabulary: covidiot, covidient, social distancing, super-spreader, contact tracing. These are but a few of the changes that mark this first quarter of 2020.
So, how are you this day? We’re coming to understand this new reality. We might be anxious, afraid, angry. Some are grieving what no longer is. Introverts and computer nerds jokingly note they’ve been training for this their whole lives. Even as we stay home and practice physical distancing, we are not without support from our community of women.
Join in Tuesday Prayer at Noon
We have revitalized a discipline carried out in our organization in the past: gathering in prayer on Tuesdays at noon. We’ve created a simple form to follow: reflect on God’s word, offer prayers, and reflect on your self-care and the care of others. We have a one-page downloadable prayer sheet available on welca.org. I encourage you to download and share it among the women in your congregation.
Come together every Tuesday at noon to pray together, resting sure in the knowledge that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NRSV)
Within Women of the ELCA, we have a long tradition of drawing on support from one another. It’s what Martin Luther referred to as “mutual consolation.” In our congregational groups, we have walked together through cancer, divorce, death, job loss, and more. We have mentored each other in the faith. We have celebrated births, graduations, new jobs, and other milestones, large and small. And we have done all of this while immersed in God’s word, month in, month out.
Now is the time to rely heavily on one another. Because we cannot meet together in person, we will find creative ways to offer each other that mutual consolation. Here are a few ideas.
- Pray for each other.
- Begin with a telephone call to check in on a sister in Christ.
- Someone in your congregational group can likely figure out how to have a group phone call.
- Those who use newer technology can gather your group together via FaceTime, Zoom, or another electronic option. You can hold a Bible study in those settings.
- Participate within our social media communities. They are ways to gather virtually. Within Facebook, we have a Women of the ELCA community, one centered on Gather magazine and another on Café.
However you do it, now is the time to support one another in community.
“An openness to change and the ability to allow for diversity in functioning shall be among the desired results of the structure of this organization.” That’s one of the principles of Women of the ELCA, found in Article III, Section 4 of the Churchwide Constitution. Right now, we can’t predict when the pandemic will subside or even what life will be like after the pandemic subsides. For good or for ill, the life we knew in 2019 will likely not return in whole.
What I do know, however, is that being open to change will allow this organization to live into the future, supporting Lutheran women as we live out our baptismal promises.
May God’s peace be with you.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. This article will run in the June issue of Gather magazine.