I almost wrote a blog about our second anniversary of COVID-19 restrictions.
Something about how we’ve had two years of shelter in place, quarantine, canceled events, people dying, mask mandates, social distancing, “God’s work, wash your hands,” wipe down groceries, everything is closed except the freeways, blah blah, blah.
Two years of being afraid of the air, and people, vaccines, testing, terminal diagnosis, home tests, blah blah blah.
24 months and counting of worship on zoom, or on Facebook Live, or outside with masks no singing, blah blah blah.
Not to mention sickness, death, food distribution ministries reorganizing, contact tracing, constantly trying to keep up, free-floating anxiety landing on little things, zoom school, etc.
I almost wrote about that.
But…the last two years haven’t just been about COVID-19.
We are also living in a contentious political environment--including a riot in the Capital as well as hate crimes that make it necessary to say: Black Lives Matter, Asian Lives Matter, and to take to the streets. There continue to be new anti-trans laws and more restrictions on voting rights. Critical Race Theory has been ruled controversial – and even outlawed. And now, Russia is invading Ukraine – targeting civilians causing many to wonder if this is the start of WWIII.
I have a few dear friends who I cannot name. They work in Russia. They have shared their hearts with me. I asked if I could quote them for this article and they asked me not to because it would be very dangerous for them and the church. My friends recognize propaganda no matter which side it comes from. They have loved ones in Ukraine. They experience the body of Christ as international. But Russian church leaders who speak out are being expelled and denied re-entry. Everyone understands that Putin can make the cost of publicly speaking out much higher than expulsion. What good can they do if they are not allowed in the country to work with their people?
Thinking about all of this leaves me with feelings of frustration, grief, and powerlessness. What can we do?
Sing, dance, pray, and live in hope another day.
Bessel van der Kolk tells a story about Bishop Desmond Tutu. It was the height of the struggle against apartheid. Things were not going well. People were angry, frustrated, disappointed, and exhausted. Tutu gathered them together. Van der Kolk says that after a bit of talking, Tutu began to sing. He chose a hymn they all knew, one with some rhythm to it. The people began to sing along. Tutu began to sway and to dance to the music. The people followed. Soon voices were raised together, and bodies were swaying to the same beat. When the Spirit moved him, Tutu began to pray. Frustration, grief, and powerlessness faded into resolve: all is not well, but it will be, and we live to fight another day.
We don’t have to stay overwhelmed by the last two years or the moment we are in. We can raise our voices, move our bodies, and pray together. We can act in hope. We can support legislation that reflects God’s love for everyone. We can donate food here at home, and funds to support the people most impacted by Putin’s rage abroad. Use one or more of the links below to learn more, inspire yourself, and strengthen your hope.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services: https://www.lirs.org/
ELCA Advocacy, Lutheran Public Policy office: https://www.elca.org/advocacy
Lutheran World Federation: https://www.lutheranworld.org/
ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response: https://www.elca.org/our-work/relief-and-development/lutheran-disaster-response