PHYSICAL DISTANCE + SPIRITUAL INTIMACY // DISTANCIA FÍSICA + INTIMIDAD ESPIRITUAL

A Lenten Devotion for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day 6 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Stay-At-Home Order for the State of California

(Por favor, vean la versión en español a continuación.)

READING FROM THE SCRIPTURES

God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:24b-27, NRSV, alt.) 

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MEDITATING ON THE WORD

Ever since COVID-19 crossed the borders of China and began its rapid spread across the world, we have been hearing the phrase “social distancing.” Public health officials, community leaders, and politicians have been encouraging us to stay at home as much as possible, to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between us if we have to leave our houses, and to avoid all forms of physical contact (including hugs, handshakes, and elbow bumps).

However, as one of my friends recently observed, this isn’t really social distancing. We are not being required to abstain from all social contact whatsoever. We can still engage in social contact with each other, we just have to do it from a distance. What our public health experts are actually asking us to do could be better described as physical distancing. They are calling us to maintain enough physical space between us that the virus simply cannot pass from one person to the other.

During this time when we are being required to stay at home or otherwise separate physically, it will be more important than ever to remain socially connected. Thanks be to God that we live during a time when we can connect via telephone or the internet. We can call our friends and family members to find out how they are doing and spend a few moments chatting. We can send emails or texts to let our co-workers know that we are thinking about them. We can even resort to such low-tech strategies as shouting to our next door neighbors from a distance, or mailing letters to people far away. The important thing is that we do in fact connect even as we maintain a healthy physical separation. It’s very important in times of crisis to avoid loneliness and isolation.

As followers of Jesus, it’s also important to remember that we are still a part of the body of Christ. Just as there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39), so nothing can separate us from the love that we have for one another as members together in Christ’s body. This is why the apostle Paul reminds us: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it. If one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26) We are bound together by the love of God that dwells within us. And because of this, we participate in mutual affection and responsibility for each other.

We do not know where the COVID-19 pandemic will take us next. And yet, we know that the future is in God’s hands! So, let us not give in to fear however much the world around us panics. Rather, let us continue to strengthen the body of Christ in love. Let us continue to contact each other, to pray for each other, to encourage each other, and to remind each other that God is still a God of Life, and we are still a people of resurrection. Amen.

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Take a few moments to meditate in silence.

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PRAYING FOR OURSELVES AND THE WORLD

COVID-19: A Prayer of Solidarity

By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

For all who have contracted coronavirus, we pray for care and healing.

For those who are particularly vulnerable, we pray for safety and protection.

For all who experience fear or anxiety, we pray for peace of mind and spirit.

For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety, we pray for policies that recognize their plight.

For those who do not have adequate health insurance, we pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.

For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status, we pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.

For our siblings around the world, we pray for shared solidarity.

For public officials and decision-makers, we pray for wisdom and guidance.

Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all. Grant peace. Grant comfort. Grant healing.

Be with us, Lord. Amen.

Copyright © 2020, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. This text may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration for nonprofit educational use, provided such reprints are not sold and include this notice.

Una Devoción Cuaresmal para el Miércoles, el 25 de Marzo 2020

Día 6 de la Orden de Quedarse-En-Casa del Gobernador Gavin Newsom para el Estado de California

LEYENDO DE LAS ESCRITURAS

Dios ordenó el cuerpo dando más abundante honor al que menos tenía, para que no haya divisiones en el cuerpo, sino que todos los miembros se preocupen los unos por los otros. De manera que si un miembro padece, todos los miembros se duelen con él, y si un miembro recibe honra, todos los miembros con él se gozan. Vosotros, pues, sois el cuerpo de Cristo y miembros cada uno en particular.  (1 Corintios 12:24b-27, RVR 1995)

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 MEDITANDO EN LA PALABRA

Desde que el COVID-19 cruzó las fronteras de China y comenzó su rápida propagación en todo el mundo, hemos escuchado la frase “el distanciamiento social.” Funcionarios de salud pública, líderes de la comunidad, y políticos han estado animándonos a quedarse en casa tanto como sea posible, a mantener por lo menos seis pies de distancia entre nosotros si tenemos que salir de nuestras casas, y a evitar todas formas de contacto físico (incluso abrazos, apretones de manos, y toques de codos.)

Sin embargo, como una de mis amigas recientemente observó, esto no se trata realmente del distanciamiento social. No se nos está requiriendo que nos abstengamos de todo contacto social en absoluto. Todavía podemos tomar parte en el contacto social el uno con el otro, sólo tenemos que hacerlo desde una distancia. Lo que nuestros expertos en salud pública están pidiendo que hagamos podría describirse mejor como distanciamiento físico. Ellos están llamándonos a mantener suficiente espacio físico entre nosotros que el virus simplemente no puede pasar de una persona a la otra.

Durante este tiempo cuando se nos requiere a quedarse en casa, o separarse físicamente de otra manera, importará más que nunca que sigamos conectados socialmente. Gracias a Dios que vivimos durante una época cuando podemos conectarnos por el teléfono o por el internet. Podemos llamar a nuestros amigos y familiares para descubrir cómo están y pasar algunos minutos platicando. Podemos enviar correos electrónicos o textos para avisar a nuetros colegas que estamos pensando en ellos. Incluso podemos recurrir a estrategias de baja tecnología como gritando a nuestros vecinos de al lado desde la distancia, o enviando cartas por correo a personas que están lejos. Lo más importante es que de hecho conectemos incluso mientras mantengamos una separación física saludable. Durante momentos de crisis, es muy importante que evitemos la soledad y el aislamiento.

Como seguidores de Jesús, también es importante que recordemos que somos parte del cuerpo de Cristo. Así como no hay ninguna cosa creada que nos puede separar del amor de Dios que es en Cristo Jesús (Romanos 8:39), así que no hay nada que nos puede separar del amor que tenemos el uno para el otro como miembros juntos en el cuerpo de Cristo. Es por eso que el apóstol Pablo nos recuerda: “Si un miembro padece, todos los miembros se duelen con él, y si un miembro recibe honra, todos los miembros con él se gozan.” (1 Corintios 12:26) Somos ligados juntos por el amor de Dios que habita en nosotros. Y por eso, participamos en mutuo afecto y responsabilidad el uno por el otro

No sabemos dónde la pandemia COVID-19 nos llevará a continuación. Sin embargo, ¡sabemos que el futuro está en las manos de Dios! Así que no nos rindamos al miedo, por mucho que el mundo que nos rodea entre en pánico. En cambio, sigamos fortaleciendo el cuerpo de Cristo en el amor. Sigamos contactándonos unos a otros, rezando el uno por el otro, animándonos unos a otros y recordándonos unos a otros que Dios todavía es un Dios de Vida, y nosotros todavía somos un pueblo de resurrección.

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Pasen algunos momentos para meditar en silencio.

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ORANDO POR NOSOTROS MISMOS Y POR EL MUNDO

COVID-19: Una Oración de Solidaridad

Por la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos

Para aquellos que han contraído coronavirus, oramos por el cuidado y la curación.

Para aquellos que son particularmente vulnerables, oramos por la seguridad y la protección.

Para aquellos que experimentan el miedo o la ansiedad, oramos por tranquilidad de mente y espíritu.

Para familias afectadas que enfrentan decisiones difíciles entre alimentándose a sí mismos o protegiendo la seguridad pública, oramos por políticas que reconocen sus situaciones graves.

Para aquellos que no tienen seguro medico adecuado, oramos que ninguna familia enfrentará las cargas financieras sola.

Para aquellos que tienen miedo de accede a la atención médica debido al estado migratorio, oramos por el reconocimiento de la dignidad dada por Dios de todos.

Para nuestros hermanos y hermanas alrededor del mundo, oramos por la solidaridad compartida.

Para los funcionarios públicos y las personas que toman decisiones, oramos por la sabiduría y la guía.

Padre, durante este tiempo, que tu Iglesia sea un señal de la esperanza, el consuelo y el amor para todos. Otorga la paz. Otorga el consuelo. Otorga la sanación.

Sea con nosotros, Senor. Amén.

Derechos de autor © 2020, Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos. Todos los derechos reservados. Este texto puede ser reproducido en todo o en parte sin modificación para el uso educativo no lucrative, siempre que tales reimpresiones no se venden e incluyen esta noticia.

CALLED TO BE THE CHURCH

A Bible Study for Lent 2020 – Tuesdays for 7:00-8:30 p.m.

WEEK 4: I’ve Had Enough!

March 24, 2020

To join the Bible study online, either click on the following link or copy and paste it into your online browser:   https://zoom.us/j/7184544317

You can also join by phone by calling:   1-669-900-9128. When prompted, enter the following passcode: 718 454 4317

Welcome

Introduction to Lenten Practices:

So what is a Lenten practice? A Lenten practice is anything we do during Lent that opens us up and brings us closer into God’s presence. A Lenten practice is like going to the gym for your faith. It may be awkward at first and difficult, but afterwards you feel good; and after doing it for a while, you notice changes and strengths, and it becomes so much a part of your routine that you can’t imagine life without it. Some common Lenten practices include prayer, fasting, generosity, confession, Bible study, hospitality, working for justice, and meditation.

The Lenten discipleship practices that we will explore are each tied to the Christian values of generosity, thankfulness, and stewardship. Each week, not only will we learn about a specific Lenten practice, but you will be given ideas about different ways that you can actually do it. Try it; play with it; see how it opens you up to God. By taking this opportunity and trying each practice, you will be making space in your life to actively live out the Way of Jesus.

Opening Litany:

Thank you, loving God, for being with us, always,

and helping us to make time in this place.

We ask you to help us remember all the moments of gratitude that have filled this week,

and we ask you to help us look forward to all of the moments of gratitude that are still to come.

Blessed are you, forever and ever.

Amen!

Prayer

Witness of the Stewards:

Last week, we were asked to be intentional about worship God either alone or in the company of a few others. Doing that has become more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet you may have had opportunities to do so by phone or online or with others living in your household. So I invite you now to share a story about how this Lenten disciple worked (or didn’t work) for you this last week to open you up to God.

For the stories we have shared, for the lives we have lived, for the love you have given—

Thank you, God!

May the stories of our friends remind us all that we are on the Way together!

Thank you, God! Amen!

Reading Scripture – Psalm 23:1-6

God is my shepherd, everything I need is taken care of:

Good food to eat, sweet water to drink, safe place to sleep!

When my soul is broken, God restores it.

When my path gets twisted, God returns me to the right ways by the Holy Name!

When I walk in shadowed places, where death is waiting for me, I will not be afraid.

I know that you are with me, God.

I am comforted by your guidance, by your readiness to defend me.

Even in the presence of those who would do me harm, you make sure that I have enough, and more than enough!

You mark me as yours.

I am certain that your goodness and your mercy will always be in my life, and I will be a part of your household forever… a part of your household, forever!

Discussion

  • In lesson 1 of our Lenten Bible study, we explored the practice of saying ‘No!’ to many things based on the values decisions we have made to say ‘Yes!’ to other things. The spiritual practice of consciously basing our Nos and our Yeses on our fundamental values is THE Stewardship and Discipleship question above all others.
  • In lesson 2, we looked into being a blessing. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing for others. We looked deeper into THE Stewardship and Discipleship question. As people of faith, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to use everything God has given us.
  • In lesson 3, we explored what it means to be stewards of our time… especially as we use our time to worship and follow in the way of God.
  • Talk about your experiences of Psalm 23, one of the most familiar and beloved passages of scripture in the whole Bible. Where and when have you heard it? What significance does it hold for you in your life and your practice of faith.
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  • Psalm 23 is typically seen as a source of comfort, support, and encouragement, especially in times of mourning. The King James version of Psalm 23 – the form by which it’s best known – is commonly read during funerals and memorial services. Some of you may even know that version of it by heart. Let’s recite it together:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul.

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  • We could go through this Psalm to identify all the wonderful things that God gives or promises to give to us. But before we do that, let’s look at the opening line one more time: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Think about what it would mean to be in a state of existence without want. What would a world without want actually look like?
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  • If you haven’t already done so, place that statement into the context of our world where so much of what we see and hear and experience demands, over and over, that we consume, buy, accumulate, hoard, succeed, and want. Faster, stronger, smarter. More, more more!
  • Yet this Bible song starts with the revolutionary – and maybe even subversive – idea that “I shall not want.” Not because I can’t afford it. Not because I have three of them. Not because I already have the best and newest. Not because it’s back ordered on Amazon. “I shall not want” because “The Lord is my shepherd.”
  • What would it mean to you – to all of us – to make the statement: “I shall not want” because God provides me with everything I need. “I shall not want” because I trust in God, who came in Jesus the Word made flesh; to reconcile and make new.
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  • Read the following aloud:

Jesus clearly taught and lived that we are inter-connected and inter-related; neighbors to one another; to love and serve each other, sharing what we have and who we are for each other’s good. “I shall not want” because to want is the path to greed and selfishness; which is not Jesus’ Way. To want means never being happy; never being content; always, well… wanting, and always at someone else’s expense.

In what way is want a path to greed and selfishness? In what ways does it keep us from ever being truly happy? In what ways does the spiritual practice of not wanting liberate us to be satisfied, content, happy, and generous?

  • A key tool for overcoming our addiction – our slavery – to want is to practice appreciation and contentment. Name a few things in your life for which you have truly experienced appreciation.
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  • Now think of some moments when you have experienced authentic contentment.
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  • How can you take these experiences and use them to help you draw closer to God during the coming week?
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Prayers of the People and the Prayer that Jesus Taught Us

For our Prayers of the People today, please cup your hands together, and place them close to your mouth.

I invite you not to think about something in your life that makes you smile, something in your life that makes you happy, something in your life for which you are grateful. And, when you’re ready, I’d ask you to whisper it, into your hands.

(A moment of silence)

Now, I’d like to ask you to think about something that’s happened that is causing you pain, right now. Perhaps it is something that you’ve done. Perhaps it is something that has been done to you. Whatever it is, I’d like to ask you if you’re ready to give it to God, that the hurt might be healed and whatever is broken might be made whole. When you’re ready, whisper that into your hands.

(A moment of silence)

Now I’d like to ask you to think about someone, something or some place you know of that is in need of God’s particular attention. It might be something quite personal to you, or it might be something far away. Take a moment to whisper into your hands a little about that person or situation and ask God to help you understand how you might be of help.

(A moment of silence)

Now comes the time to offer the prayers that are in our hands. Open the cup so that your hands are flat and bring them up to your lips. Take a deep breath and… blow!

(Give people a moment to blow their prayers into God’s world)

We pray all of these things, sharing the words that Jesus gave to all of his disciples, including us…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Announcements and Assignment for Next Week:

  • Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. Spend time praying about how God can help you turn impossible situations into opportunities for new life.
  • Do an Appreciation Inventory. Look, touch, smell, remember, and immerse yourself in what you have been given. You may choose to physically walk through your home to do this, or you can do it sitting in your favorite spot and using your mind’s eye. Either way, as you encounter or experience your physical stuff (clothes, car, food, money, toys, and so on), your non-physical stuff (job, memory, learning, faith), and your relationships (family, friends, co-workers, people that support you), pause with each one and appreciate what you have. Afterwards, acknowledge to yourself just how much you have been given. Be content. Be grateful. In these will you find the path to generosity.
  • Are there any other announcements?

Benediction and Commissioning

Let’s go into the world as people of gratitude.

Let’s go into the world as people of hope.

Let’s go into the world as people of joyfulness.

Let’s go into the world ready to share Christ’s love!

And let us go knowing this: we are never, ever alone.

The peace of Christ holds us, the love of the Creator enfolds us, and the wings of the Holy Spirit carry us, today and always. Amen!

 Based on “Called to Be the Church: Congregational Giving Program,” The United Church of Canada

https://www.united-church.ca/sites/default/files/called_to_be_the_church_five_sundays_of_lent.pdf

GOD WHO IS WITH US // DIOS QUIEN ESTÁ CON NOSOTROS

A Lenten Devotion for  Monday, March 23, 2020

Day 4 of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Stay-At-Home Order for the State of California

(Por favor, vean la versión en español a continuación.)

READING FROM THE SCRIPTURES 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  (Psalm 23:4, KJV, alt.) 

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MEDITATING ON THE WORD

Translators disagree about how best to translate Psalm 23 into English. The King James Version translates the Hebrew phrase גיא צלמות (gey’ tsalmaveth) dramatically as ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ Other translations, like the New Revised Standard Version, translate it much more prosaically as ‘the darkest valley.’  

There’s a reason why the King James Version is translated in this way. The Hebrew word צלמות (tsalmaveth) is a contraction of two Hebrew nouns: צל (tsel) meaning ‘shadow,’ and מות (maveth) meaning ‘death.’ So, the King James Version is as literal as it can possibly be. It is – in my estimation – a much better translation that embodies the inherent poetic power of the Hebrew original.

Why does this matter? It matters because the poet who wrote Psalm 23 is not just interested in the fact that humans seem to be innately afraid of the dark. The poet’s use of words invites us to delve into the deeper question of WHY we are afraid. We are not afraid of the dark just because it’s dark, not even because it’s deeply dark. We’re afraid of the dark because we know that the dark might hide dangers that have the potential to cause us harm or even kill us. We’re afraid because the dark reminds us that we are mortal. Our time under the sun with friends and loved ones is limited, for the day inevitably comes when we lose our lives to something, and we return to the darkness from which we were originally taken.

Isn’t this the fear that confronts us in the COVID-19 crisis? More and more people are becoming infected with each and every day that passes, and the mortality statistics are rising accordingly. Even though we know that our chances of being among those who succumb to this illness are relatively low, we still worry that we might be among those unlucky ones who become sick. And our anxiety becomes even worse when we discover that we belong to one of the high risk groups most likely to be negatively affected. COVID-19 pointedly reminds us that all of us – sooner or later – will have to pass through that valley of the shadow of death that causes us so much anxiety and fear.

This is why it’s so critical for us to understand the poet’s words of confidence and trust. We’re not going to avoid the valley of the shadow of death by pretending that it’s not real. It is very real! And it is inevitable! Nevertheless, the poet implores us to understand that we do not have to traverse that valley alone. Psalm 23 assures us that God will be with us even there. In the face evil… in the face of suffering… in the face of darkness… in the face of death… in the face of COVID-19… God is with us to protect us and to guide us. And since God is with us, we can manage our fear.

Let us always remember that God is still a God of Life, and we are still a people of resurrection. Amen.

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Take a few moments to meditate in silence.

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PRAYING FOR OURSELVES AND THE WORLD

God, we live in a frightening world. We hear daily stories of war and violence, of poverty and hatred, of ignorance and injustice. And now, we are confronted by a crisis unlike any that we have ever experienced in our lifetimes.

COVID-19 feels to us like the valley of the shadow of death. We can’t see it! It hides in the air that all of us breathe and on the surfaces that all of us touch. It infects the bodies of our friends and family members. It lurks in the sneezes and coughs of colleagues and strangers. And there are times when we struggle to control the fear that too often threatens to overwhelm us.

Remind us, O God, that you are the one who created light when nothing existed but darkness. Your light shined into the shadows, and the shadows were not able to extinguish it. They cannot extinguish it now! There is no gloom so deep that you will not enter it. We can travel nowhere so dark that you will not find us. You are with us even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Strengthen our faith to trust you during these difficult and frightening times. You are our hope.

Be with those who have already become ill and also with their caregivers.

Be with those who have died and those who mourn their loss.

Be with those who lack communities that provide them with care and support and who now suffer from loneliness and anxiety.

Be with those who have no homes in which to shelter, those confined in prisons and nursing homes, and those who don’t have access to adequate medical care.

Be with those who have lost jobs and other sources of income and who now worry about how they will provide for their own and their families’ needs.

Be with doctors, nurses, medical researchers, social workers, first providers, chaplains, and others who perform essential services.

Be with our politicians, policy makers, and community leaders. Help them to make decisions that are wise, compassionate, and courageous.

Be with all of us that we might do what is necessary to care for ourselves and others.

O God who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, remind us always that you are a God of Life and that we are a people of resurrection.

Amen.


Una Devoción Cuaresmal para el Lunes, el 23 de Marzo 2020

Día 4 de la Orden de Quedarse-En-Casa del Gobernador Gavin Newsom para el Estado de California

LEYENDO DE LAS ESCRITURAS 

Aunque ande en valle de sombra de muerte, no temeré mal alguno, porque tú estarás conmigo; tu vara y tu cayado me infundirán aliento.  (Salmo 23:4, RVR 1995)

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MEDITANDO EN LA PALABRA

Los traductores no están de acuerdo sobre la mejor manera de traducir el Salmo 23 en español. La versión Reina Valera traduce la frase hebrea גיא צלמות (gey’ tsalmaveth) dramáticamente como ‘valle de sombra de muerte.’ Otras traducciones, como la Nueva Versión Internacional, la traduce mucho más prosaicamente como ‘valles tenebrosos.’

Hay una razón por la cual la versión Reina Valera se traduce de esta manera. La palabra hebrea צלמות (tsalmaveth) es una contracción de dos sustantivos hebreos: צל (tsel) que significa ‘sombra,’ y מות (maveth) que significa ‘muerte.’ Así que, el versión Reina Valera es tan literal como puede ser. Es – en mi valoración – una traducción mucho más mejor que encarna el poder poético inherente del original hebreo.

¿Por qué importa esto? Importa porque el poeta que escribió el Salmo 23 no sólo está interesado en el hecho de que los humanos parecen tener miedo innato de la oscuridad. El uso de palabras por parte del poeta nos invita a explorar la pregunta más profunda de POR QUÉ tenemos miedo. No tenemos miedo de la oscuridad sólo porque está oscuro, ni siquiera porque está profundamente tenebroso. Tenemos miedo de la oscuridad porque sabemos que la oscuridad pueda esconder peligros que tienen la potencial de causarnos daño o incluso matarnos. Tenemos miedo porque la oscuridad nos recuerda que somos mortales. Nuestro tiempo bajo el sol con amigos y seres queridos es limitado, porque el día inevitablemente llega cuando perdemos nuestras vidas a algo, y volvemos a la oscuridad de la cual originalmente fuimos tomados.

¿No es este el miedo que nos enfrenta en la crisis del COVID-19? Más y más personas se infectan con cada día que pasa, y las estadísticas de mortalidad están aumentando en cosecuencia. Aunque sabemos que nuestras posibilidades de estar entre los que sucumben a esta enfermedad son relativamente bajas, todavía nos preocupamos sobre la posibilidad de que estemos entre los desafortunados que se enfermarán. Y nuestra ansiedad se hace peor cuando descubrimos que pertenecemos a uno de los grupos de alto riesgo que tienen más probabilidades de verse afectados negativamente. COVID-19 nos recuerda que cada uno de nosotros tendrá que pasar – tarde o temprano – por ese valle de sombra de muerte que nos causa tan mucha ansiedad y terror.

Es por eso que es tan crítico para nosotros entender las palabras de seguridad y confianza del poeta. No vamos a evitar el valle de sombra de muerte pretendiendo que no es real. ¡Es muy real! ¡Y es inevitable! Sin embargo, el poeta nos implora que comprenda que no tenemos que atravesar ese valle solo. Salmo 23 nos asegura que Dios estará con nosotros incluso allí. Ante el mal… ante el sufrimiento… ante la oscuridad… ante la muerte… ante el COVID-19… Dios está con nosotros para protegernos y guiarnos. Y ya que Dios está con nosotros, podemos manejar nuestro miedo.

Siempre recordemos que Dios todavía es un Dios de Vida, y nosotros todavía somos un pueblo de resurrección.

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Pasen algunos momentos para meditar en silencio.

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ORANDO POR NOSOTROS MISMOS Y POR EL MUNDO

Dios, vivimos en un mundo aterrador. Oímos historias diarias de guerra y violencia, de pobreza y odio, de ignorancia e injusticia. Y ahora, nos enfrentamos a una crisis diferente a cualquier otra que hemos experimentado en nuestras vidas.

COVID-19 nos parece como el valle de sombra de muerte. ¡No podemos verlo! Se esconde en el aire que todos nosotros respiramos y en las superficies que todos nosotros tocamos. Infecta los cuerpos de nuestros amigos y familiares. Acecha en los estornudos y toses de colegas y extraños. Y hay momentos cuando luchamos para controlar el miedo que demasiado a menudo amenaza con abrumarnos.

Recuérdanos, Oh Dios, que eres el que creó la luz cuando nada existía más que la oscuridad. Tu luz brillaba en las sombras, y las sombras no eran capaces de extinguirla. ¡No pueden extinguirla ahora! No hay oscuridad tan profunda que tú no entrarás en ella. No podemos viajar a ninguna parte tan oscura que no nos encontrarás. Estás con nosotros incluso cuando caminamos a través del valle de sombra de muerte. 

Fortalece nuestra fe para que confiemos en ti durante estos tiempos difíciles y aterradores. Eres nuestra esperanza.

Esté con aquellos que ya se han enfermado y también con sus cuidadores.

Esté con aquellos que han muerto y con aquellos que lloran su pérdida.

Esté con aquellos que carecen de comunidades que les proporcionan con cuidado y apoyo y que sufren ahora de soledad y ansiedad.

Esté con aquellos que no tienen hogares en los que pueden refugiarse, aquellos que están confinados en prisiones y residencias, y aquellos que no tienen suficiente acceso a la atención médica.

Esté con aquellos que han perdido empleos y otros fuentes de ingresos y que ahora se preocupan sobre cómo van a satisfacer sus propias necesidades y las de sus familias.

Esté con los doctores, los enfermeros, los investigadores médicos, los trabajadores sociales, los profesionales de primeros auxilios, los capellanes, y los otros que realizan servicios esenciales.

Esté con nuestros politicos, fabricantes de política, y líderes de la comunidad. Ayúdales a tomar decisiones que están sabias, compasivas, y valientes.

Esté con todos nosotros para que hagamos lo que es necesario para cuidar de nosotros mismos y de los demás.

Oh Dios que camina con nosotros a través del valle de sombra de muerte. Recuérdanos siempre que eres un Dios de Vida, y que nosotros somos un pueblo de resurrección.

Amén.