A Pastoral Letter for a Time Such as This

Beloved Friends,
I am writing to you from Lisa’s and my home, where I sit comfortably after a great day—a day during which I had the honor of sitting with some of you and learning more about your stories, I shared some time with Jonathan making plans for the coming months, and I was able to do some study and reading.
In spite of that—or perhaps because of that—while I sit in our dining room, I am thinking of people who did not make it home.
I am thinking of men and women whose deaths we have seen recorded on cell phone video, and who never made it home from traffic stops, from parking lots, from places they found dangerous, from places that filled them with fear.
I am thinking of men and women who take vows to serve and protect, who live for and live up to those vows, who died in the line of duty.

And friends, I am thinking of you.

If you are like me, you’ve spent the day in a bit of haze. Perhaps you’ve been angry. Perhaps you’ve been filled with despair. Perhaps you’ve wanted to march in the street. Perhaps you’ve wanted to circle the wagons, batten down the hatches, and protect you and your precious loved ones. Perhaps you feel isolated by the swirl of opinions and politics that surround us.

If you are like me, you’ve rattled off a thousand reasons, explanations, and what you hope are answers. If you are like me, you’ve been sitting with uncertainty and questions that can only be met with silence. Perhaps a long-held belief was shattered over the last few days. Perhaps a long-held fear was confirmed.

No matter where you find your thoughts, dear ones, I am thinking of you, because you are the Church.

As a people called by God to be the healing, hope-giving Body of Christ, there is much ahead of us. As Disciples of Christ, people who claim to be called to look for and work for wholeness in a fragmented world, there is much work to do.

But if you are like me, you feel the need, on a day like today, to listen, to pray, to breathe deeply, to turn to those who know you best, to re-read the poems, the stories, or the sacred texts that bring what is precious to life for you. You need to grieve before you work.

Perhaps you are sitting with the possibility that you or someone you love might be mistaken as a threat because of skin color, and not make it home.

Perhaps you are sitting with the possibility that someone you love serves in law enforcement or in another career that hinges on trust and vulnerability, and there are times when you feel the ring of a telephone in the pit of your stomach.

Perhaps you grieve the thought of what you thought our nation was, and that seems so far away. Perhaps you grieve the easiness with which hope once came.

As I have been sitting at the dinner table with all of this, I have been thinking of another table: the one we approach every Sunday, and I remember your faces—

You who bring communion and comfort to our homebound members.
You who make room for strangers, who feed the hungry.
You who fill our church and our world with beautiful image, detail, or song.
You who heal broken hearts and broken bodies.
You who curate our collective memory.
You who educate our community’s children.
You who advocate for one another, for our city’s most vulnerable, for people you’ve never met.
You who live quiet lives of integrity.
You who are still newborn, all possibilities before you.
You who have cared for me.

Beloved friends, in this tender time, the Holy One pulls us close, even as the one we name the Christ calls us out into the world to be peacemakers. May this care and call embody the work we do in Christ’s name.



2 thoughts on “A Pastoral Letter for a Time Such as This

  1. Tremendous caring pastoral letter. You have pastored me through your writing. Blessings on you! May we all cont9inue to work for peace. we must rise above fear and seek God’s guidance in our responsive actions of caring love.


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