Mordecai’s advice to Esther is applicable to many a pastor, not to mention healthcare worker and first responder, dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to this position for just such a time as this.”
What stands out most in my memory of pastoral appointments as a young adult was the enormous privilege I was given at such an early age. By virtue of my position, I was invited into people’s lives at some of their most significant moments, times both of joy and of sorrow. Who was I that I should officiate at a baptism or a wedding? I vividly recall being awakened by the phone in the middle of the night and rushing to the hospital to assist families whose teenage children had been severely injured in an automobile accident. I was out of my depth, but, by the grace of God, was privileged to be present and to be of some help. I wanted to be a faithful steward of this trust, but I also was keenly aware that I had not earned it. It was a gift.
We are living in the midst of exceptional–and, for all but a few, unparalleled–circumstances. This is true for us here at Perkins as it is for millions of others across the globe. As you will read in our lead article, we have moved all classes online, and most faculty and staff are now working from home. Many of them as well as a number of our students have a spouse and children who also must work or attend school from their residence, making for tight quarters and strained Internet connections.
In the great scheme of things, these are small sacrifices, mostly inconveniences. By contrast, I learned only minutes ago of the death of a former student’s wife due to Covid-19. Sadly, we will all hear more such stories before this is over. As they say, this is getting real. We who are blessed with health, energy, and resources are now challenged to minister as never before, in kind but perhaps also in degree. Needs that might have seemed abstract and distant just a week or two ago are now tangible and drawing close.
So much of life is routine and therefore forgettable, but I imagine we will all remember how we responded in this hour. It is understandable that we should feel some anxiety, some unclarity, in the midst of so much uncertainty. Who would have thought last year that simply entering a crowded grocery store might seem a risk? We are all under threat, as were the Jewish people in the story of Esther. Like her, given our position, what is it we are specially called to do? Whatever it is, it is a privilege, a grace, a gift.
It is enormously heartening to read about the creative responses of so many generous and dedicated people, including of course Perkins students and graduates, to the present crisis. We would like to hear about and share more of these stories with you.
Please share your stories in the “Comments” section below. Your name and e-mail address are required. Thank you.