A few days ago, Jeanette Phillips brought to my attention something that was written in the history of our congregation. Rev. Pessel, the pastor at the time, wrote the following in a letter: “We had a terrible time here with the flu. People died like flies. One, two, three, or four funerals a day. Got at last tired of burying people. They were in their prime, no older people at all. Many children orphaned. Almost everyone was sick with the flu or pneumonia.”
I can’t imagine how exhausted Rev. Pessel was in 1918. Not only had World War I just ended, but the epidemic of the Spanish Flu was picking up. My heart goes out to this former pastor of our congregation. To experience your congregants getting sick and many younger congregants dying
would have been heartbreaking.
I imagine that all of us are experiencing a sense of this exhaustion in 2020. While we are blessed with technology like the internet, better access to phones, and the ability to continue connection through email and social media, we still are abiding in an unprecedented time during our lives -
something St. Paul and all of us haven’t had to experience in 102 years. What we believed to be a two-week hiatus in March has ended up becoming a situation in which we are having many difficult conversations on how to safely co-exist with this virus in our communities. There is no doubt that all of us are exhausted in trying to navigate our current world and attempting to make th healthiest decision for all - whether in our families or workplaces. On top of all of this, some of you may have experienced this terrible virus, watched a family member get ill, or lost a loved one due to complications from COVID-19. Our prayers are with you as you face this illness directly.
The exhaustion in living in our current world is real. We are all trying our best to live in this current realm, looking forward to moments that remind us of pre-COVID lives and getting back to a life that looks much like 2019. We are working to move forward while being very intentional about
being safe. Our staff and volunteers have worked diligently and innovatively as possible to continue the ministry and mission of our congregation. As we have seen recently, we are dealing with the “whiplash” that comes with moving forward then needing to take a step back when the
regional rate of infection increases. We miss our old lives and the ease in which many daily activities came to us - everything and
anything from figuring out how to safely go to the store to how to safely socialize with our friends.
What we must remember is that God is steadfast in bringing us the peace, wisdom, and support we need. When we feel this sense of exhaustion, our call is to take a few moments to look for God in our current situation. A scripture that I am holding very close to me during this time is
Isaiah 40:31: “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
There is no doubt in my mind that God was helping out Rev. Pessel in 1918 here at St. Paul UCC. God is guiding all of us, and God will see us through this time just like God did back 102 years ago.