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How Have You Adapted in This COVID Season?

How Have You Adapted in This COVID Season?



I could have never imagined that I would live in any situation like this in my lifetime. It’s been a rough six months (as of 9/28/2020) and of course, it’s not over. It’s vital to acknowledge the emotional and spiritual toll these times are taking on us, and those we love. If I turn back to six months ago, what can I see? A health pandemic caused by COVID-19; and many, way too many, have died worldwide. The health pandemic unleashed an economic pandemic that translated to the loss of millions of jobs due to worksite closures. We all had to be in lockdown – at least, those of us privileged enough to do it. There are the essential workers who never had that opportunity. We are also living through, in our country, the worst of racial pandemics, especially after the brutal murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other people of color. In California, summer has given us record heat, destructive wildfires, terrible air quality, and to top it all off, an earthquake.

As church leaders, we were forced to face the most critical technological challenges to serve our communities in the last 500 years. In a sense, same as God did with the people of Israel, God invited us back into the wilderness to hold us to account, and to hear again the spirit of wisdom.

In this short period of time, we could have easily spent the time just complaining until all this chaos is over. However, we Christians are a people of hope and although our faith does not insulate us from experiencing deep pain and loss, it gives us the strength, the courage, to put one foot in front of another, to move forward in this life. We have had to readjust, to rediscover ourselves, to rediscover new ways, not of doing, but of being church. We closed the doors of our buildings, but the church never closed. We could no longer hug each other, or pray grabbing our hands, or communicate together in the flesh, but we have found ways to continue together even at a distance. I think that many, despite the lack of technological experience, have begun to give a special flavor to the fellowship and the community that is offered online. We are beginning to love “our new ways.”

Is it easy? It is not! COVID-19 has come to change everything, absolutely everything from the way we think to the way we act, the way we live, and the way we do the opposite of love. Many of us are longing for what it used to be before March of 2020. In these times, I suppose that for most of us, returning to normality is something for which we are truly ambitious; we might be longing for “doing the stuff the way we’ve always been doing it.” But for me one thing is clear, I do not want to go back to what used to be my normal.

As the associate rector of two very different congregations, my colleagues, our parishioners and I had to rethink and revaluate new ways to continue taking care of the sacred land where we are and to continue seeing everything and everyone around us as sacred as well. We had a moral and pastoral obligation to our church membership, but beyond that, we had an obligation to our neighbors.

Therefore, to continue serving our members we ventured into offering virtual services on a daily basis in our two congregations. For example, Lectio Divina twice a week, opportunities for meditation once a week, we have also studied the curriculum of “The Way of Love”, and “Becoming the Beloved Community.” Another great experience emerged when we decided to support our neighbors, especially some of the clergy serving Latinx communities who did not have the technological experience/ resources needed to continue serving their communities. We began a fellowship and Bible study at the diocesan level, where members could connect via Zoom. To our surprise, the idea was so well received that we have now people connecting not only from the Diocese of Los Angeles, but also from Mexico, Guatemala, and Argentina.

We also began a partnership with the USDA, and thanks to this partnership we are able to run a food program that weekly benefits about 800 families who live in the neighborhoods around our two congregations. Thanks to these initiatives I have begun to know the names of my neighbors and to listen to some of their stories.

In my position directing “El Instituto de Liderazgo”, a diocesan program that aims to form lay leaders, we have had to adapt to a new curriculum which in a more intentional way, recognizes the importance of a collaborative model of ministry and work among the clergy, laity, and members of the community. Most significantly, this model recognizes the importance of lay leaders trained and formed to better serve their communities during and after COVID-19.

I am committed to continue discerning and exploring better ways to serve our communities, through this pandemic and its aftermath, but I am certain that these new models of doing and being church, especially the virtual part, is something we must continue to do. As I mentioned, we all have had to face so many changes and challenges. For me, the most important lesson is to realize that life is so fragile and finite, that at any moment a microscopic organism can just end it. And it is precisely this fragility and vulnerability that reminds me that it is more important to love than to do the opposite. As our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says, “The real opposite of love is selfishness. Love is the opposite of self-centeredness and self-centeredness is the most destructive force in human relationships and political ones. Love is the antidote, love is the cure, and love is the way.”