April 29, 2020
Rev. William Bills
I am scheduled to attend a continuing education event for clergy at Luther Seminary in Minnesota this summer in August. I signed up because I thought the title of the event was interesting: “Learning to Lead When You Aren’t Sure Where You are Going.” I don’t know if the event will be held or not in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. I find myself wishing now that it had been offered last summer. Then I might have some profound insights on our current situation. As it is, I am not sure from week to week what is coming up on our horizon.
A couple days ago I heard the president urge governors to reopen schools. He said that children are resilient, and they do very well with the virus. Then last night some interesting poll numbers came up on my television screen. 44% of Americans in the poll said they believe the president is doing a good job with the COVID-19 crisis. On the other hand, 85% disagreed with his suggestion that schools be reopened. The commanding officer of the USS Roosevelt was relieved of his command for trying to protect his crew. Now there is talk of reinstating him for trying to do the right thing. Some states are beginning to reopen, but none of them have met the federal guideline for 14 consecutive days of diminishing COVID-19 cases. Governor Whitmer’s current “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is set to expire on May 15. Our bishop is suggesting we don’t hold any services until May 17, but more information will be shared next week. (NOTE: To view Bishop Bard’s most recent message, click here.)
This all reminds me of a flight I once took from Portland to San Diego. The flight was uneventful, but a problem at the airport kept us from landing in San Diego. We circled the airport, just waiting to land, for two and a half hours. Every now and then the pilot would come on the intercom to tell us we were still in a holding pattern and that we had enough gas to do this for a while before diverting to Los Angeles. He was giving us some information. But I didn’t know where I was going to land, much less when I was going to land. When I landed in San Diego, I was reprimanded for being late, as though I had any control over the situation!
Lately I have had that “circling the airport” feeling again, wondering when this plane is going to land and where it might land. As information comes out from various sources, I try to put pieces together to see if I can get a clear picture of the runway.
The governor’s current order expires in a couple weeks. But who knows? The bishop says nothing before May 17, but stay tuned. Our governance board is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 18. Perhaps by then we will be able to see our runway more clearly. I don’t know that we will be able to open the church until at least June, though. But we will land this thing, eventually. We have enough gas to circle the airport for quite a while. We also have a great crew. Nonetheless, we covet your prayers and your patience as we figure out how best to land this thing!
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