The pandemic has presented us with quite the challenge in Pastoral Care. Our work is all about bringing people together for the help, healing and encouragement that can only come from interpersonal human contact. Companionship! COVID-19 has been a very real nemesis trying to keep us apart! As isolated as you may have felt lately, just imagine if you were no longer able to drive, or if you were too immuno-compromised to get out of house, or if you were too vulnerable to risk even a visit from your family members!

We want our homebound members and those in assisted living facilities to know that they are not forgotten. We may be restricted from visiting in person, but we have not stopped thinking about them, praying for them, or loving them as part of our church family. We wanted to make that message clear in tangible ways, so we compiled and delivered a kind of “COVID-19 Survival Kit” for them—gift bags, essentially—full of little items that seem timely: a COVID-19 mask, hand sanitizer, and hand lotion to repair the skin irritated by the hand sanitizer!

We included some fun goodies, of course, and we made sure there was lots of spiritual encouragement: artwork from our children, a blessing from Kendra, a hand-knitted prayer cloth from our Knitting Group, a smooth wooden cross from our woodworkers, a list of better-than-average COVID-19 jokes! We also invited further conversation by including a new church directory and a pre-paid, self-addressed envelope for them to return to us a prayer request card and a survey about their technical needs as they try to stay connected with us as a “virtual church.” Those communiques are trickling in, and it’s gratifying for our many volunteers in this effort to know that our message was received.

It’s so easy to think only about ourselves, isn’t it, but when we ask the question: “Who needs what I have to offer?” we not only encourage others, we find the path Jesus sets before us—out of the mire of self-concern and toward true freedom—even in a pandemic!

—Kyle

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