Love in the Time of Corona, Chapter 5
“They … pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.” – Acts 2:45
The week after Easter is usually a quiet one in churches. Once the final Hallelujah is sung, there is often a great communal exhale, as ministers and staff regroup from the events of Holy Week. But not this year. As the aftershocks of Covid-19 continue to unfold, the question of how to put that Hallelujah into practice is all the more pressing, and urgent. This year, the week following Easter becomes yet another occasion to return to some of the foundational stories and practices found in the Bible, stories that originated from moments not unlike the one we’re living through.
Take, for example, the second chapter of Acts. After the Hallelujah of the first Easter, the disciples too had to figure out how to organize their lives in a way that would be consistent with everything they had learned from Jesus. They too were bewildered and lost for a time, but they became quite literally in-spired, seized by a helpful and holy spirit, one that guided them forward. Among many activities following that moment of in-spiration, it’s notable that one of the first things they do is to pool their resources, to make sure that all the needs among them and around them are being met.
That’s something we’ve been doing all along – taking stock of our spiritual, emotional, technological and material resources, and using them to meet whatever needs that we’re encountering. Our community has been extraordinary in that regard. So many people have found ways to give of themselves, in ways large and small, to strengthen our community, and to keep our ministries vital during this time.
But we want to share another emerging need, along with an idea about how to meet it. Many of us have already started receiving relief checks (or deposits) from the government, an immense help to those who have been forced into unemployment. We can be glad that such relief exists. Meanwhile, others among us are secure in our employment, and our wages have been uninterrupted. We can be glad for that as well. For those individuals and families, the relief funds aren’t nearly as crucial.
If you belong to the latter category, we would like to invite you to consider donating a portion or the entirety of your relief money to a fund administered by FCCOL. We’ll call it the Love in the Time of Corona Fund, or the LTC Fund for short. It would go toward meeting the needs of those around us who are affected by unemployment, and who are struggling to purchase basic necessities like food. It would go toward helping individuals and families cover rent or mortgage payments, to say nothing of other necessities like electricity, heating, and internet connectivity. As this crisis continues, those are needs for which the church will be asked to help – indeed, we have already been so asked. It’s important that we mobilize now in order to continue to meet those needs, which are certain to increase. If your job and/or your income remain stable, I wonder if you’d consider using your relief money for such an effort.
Conversely, if you’re in an economic free fall as a result of the virus, we want to urge you to get in touch with the church. It may well be that we can help with some of those basic needs. We can also recommend other helpful resources in our communities. For many of us, economic instability is an entirely new experience, and so too is asking for help. That’s not something that comes easily. Please know that there’s no shame in doing so now. One of the hidden gifts of this crisis is the way the humanity of each of us has been rendered vulnerable, though each in a different way. To ask for help is simply the acknowledgment of our common vulnerabilities during this strange and unsettling moment. If you have a need, say so. It turns out, you’re not alone. We’re all experiencing needs right now.
Finally, we want to mention the ongoing financial well-being of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. The trustees met this past week, and so far, we’re doing ok financially. For that, we’re incredibly grateful. Thank you for the ways that you’ve already come through in this crisis. But it bears saying that our continued vitality depends upon our members and friends continuing to support our outreach, by making their weekly, monthly or annual pledges and by making gifts beyond your pledge if that is possible. It all makes an enormous difference – especially now. If checks and envelopes feel like an impediment, our website is equipped to handle credit card contributions. Simply go to fccol.org/donate .
Love in the Time of Corona is what we’ve been practicing all along. This is but one further dimension of what that love entails. But it’s also an opportunity to revisit one of the earliest practices of the Christian church, as they learned to translate their Easter Hallelujah into action. May it be so with us as well.
Love and peace to you, in this time of corona…
Steve, Laura, and Carleen