‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:34

On almost every modern technological device, there is a pause button.  This allows us to step away from whatever is demanding our attention to stop for a moment, to attend to other needs.  My siblings in Christ, the current pandemic is inarguably pressing pause.  For many, this is a terrible disruption, for others a source of extreme anxiety, and for still others a life-changing, paradigm-shifting event.  It touches every aspect of our global community, every aspect of our institutional life, and every aspect of our individual day-to-day existence.

Our own General Conference is being rescheduled from 2020 until 2021.  As embroiled in disagreement and talk of division as The United Methodist Church has been, this is a period for us to pause, to rethink our positions, to defuse the debate, and to prayerfully discern – what does this extra time mean?  Perhaps this extra time may grant us a deeper wisdom and creativity on how we will live out our future together.

This is also a time for us to pause as Christian disciples and to reflect on who we are in the world.  It has seldom been our reality that we stand as a single people against a pervasive, all-consuming, all-inclusive threat.  Artificial boundaries of “us” and “them” have been erased.  Where the COVID-19 virus is concerned, it impacts all of us together.

I want to call all the Wisconsin United Methodists to pause with me to consider the lives lost to this virus, the lives adversely impacted, and the ongoing suffering it produces.  Too often we want to gloss over the pain and negativity of the pandemic to race to a vision for a day when this will all be behind us.  But in reality, it will never be behind us.  Our world will be forever changed by this pandemic.  But let us press pause and think about how we will move through these days ahead.

Pray for those who contract this virus.  Most will recover, and we celebrate this reality with those who can rejoice.  But many will die, many will suffer, many will not recover, and it is important that we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve.  We have an incredible job of prayer ahead of us.  There should not be a day that goes by that we do not pray for all the lives touched by this virus. To be faithful in our prayer, we must intentionally press pause and make time to be with God and to be one with our suffering world.

Of course, we never stop there.  We do trust in God that “all things work together with God for those who love God.” We must be a people of love for those who will die, but also with those who will live.  We are a people of love for those who lose jobs and suffer economic need, and also with those who have resources and can share.  We acknowledge those who are living in fear and anxiety while asking God to provide the courage, strength, and conviction we need to offer comfort and grace.  We trust in God’s healing and we proclaim resurrection.

We are living in unprecedented days.  For those of us in the United States, we are being given an opportunity to experience what a significant population deals with every day – uncertainty, anxiety, life-and-death decisions, scarcity of needed resources, and life-altering factors beyond our control.  May our faith provide us with the firm foundation upon which we can face these difficult days.  And may the Holy Spirit of God who unites us and makes us one help us to feel connected even when we are “socially distanced.”  Have faith, my Wisconsin friends in Christ, for God is doing a great thing among us, even in the midst of this time of pausing.

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung