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Shelter in Place

March 19, 2020

“You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

As a resident of Oak Park, I received the order yesterday. Beginning tomorrow, March 20, my family and I will shelter in place. This won’t change much for Erika and the kids (pictured above on the day we moved into our shelter – look at those little Lyles!). For me, it will change my daily life dramatically. Information about Grace’s response will be coming in an email later today, but let’s face it – I won’t be coming into the office on a regular basis.

Shelter in place. The phrase strikes an ominous tone, conveying precisely what it means: Stay where you are. It’s not safe to do otherwise. Questions jump up, one after the other. How long will this last? Three weeks? 18 months? How will we get our work done? How can I pastor people under these circumstances? Will Erika be able to put up with me?

And I’ll be honest with you. This order came near the end of a pretty tough day. There were moments when I felt afraid, moments when I started to fray. As Bilbo Baggins once said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” My patience wore thin yesterday. I forgot to eat lunch. When I remembered to eat in the mid-afternoon, it was a bowl of Fruit Loops foraged in the youth room. Oh, and some Funyuns. I’m tired. This is hard.

The homily offered last night by Deacon Louise Williams was restorative. Yes, surely it is I who will make mistakes, who will inadvertently do the wrong thing from time to time. But just as surely it is I to whom Jesus pours out forgiveness and grace, given through his blood. Surely it is for me. And surely it is for you.

As you hunker down and shelter in place, remember that shelter isn’t just a noun describing where you are. Nor is it simply a verb describing what you do. Both the noun and the verb belong to the Lord. It is God who shelters you, who wraps you in the Spirit’s presence, who binds you with your fellow humans with ties much longer than six feet. It is the Lord who is your shelter, a strong tower of refuge and strength. It is the Lord, the risen Christ, whose outstretched arms cover you with grace.

Give yourself permission to know that this grace is for you. When I’m being too hard on myself, I promise that I’ll try to do the same.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Sheltering God, wrap your love around us. Protect us and all people everywhere. Give wisdom to elected officials, courage to medical workers, stamina to essential workers, patience to all of us. Thank you for the grace that flows from Jesus Christ. Help us to be graceful with each other – and with ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From → COVID-19

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