I remember many years ago my grandparents describing to me what happened to American society in 1941 in the weeks following Pearl Harbor. They recounted how they witnessed the rapid and disorienting transformation of their society and “world” as the United States literally retooled itself for the largest war in human history. My grandparents were young parents at the time with a 3 year old and a six-month old. Like most Americans they were confused, worried and had no idea what to do or how to respond.
We may be living during a similar turning point almost 80 years later, living through a global pandemic that none of us has experienced before. At least for the time being, our lives and economy have been upset and upended. For some of us this will mean sheltering in place and “riding out the storm” around us. Years from now, we will think of ourselves as the fortunate ones. For millions of Americans, the next few months will result in profound economic dislocation and still for many others life-threatening hospitalization. I can only hope and pray that the social distancing that many millions of us have already been practicing will begin to slow the spread of the virus.
First Parish Church is committed to supporting our community and finding ways to make a difference in the larger region. Last week I recommended that those of us who are relatively safe and stable find ways to support local food pantries and shelters who will find themselves overwhelmed in the coming days. We continue to encourage people to support groups like the Greater Boston Food Bank and Second Step Shelter in Newton, as well as groups like the Bristol Lodge in Waltham.
Lest we forget, 39% of the American public, approximately 137 million people, has $400 or less in savings to assist them in responding to these life altering events. This is based on a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank last year and should give all of us pause, as citizens of the wealthiest country in the world, and people of faith. I noted last Sunday that this (hopefully temporary) bout of economic dislocation will fall disproportionately on those people. *
This Sunday we will offer our first live-streamed service on a Sunday morning. I hope you will join us online for a brief service of music, stories and reflection. It should last about 30 minutes. Following this we will “gather” (or meet up) in a Zoom “chat room” for a virtual “Fellowship Hour.” (Stay tuned for details in an email being sent on Saturday night.) This is one of several online offerings we are rolling out and we welcome your ideas, suggestions and input.
If you can’t join us on Sunday, I invite you to be in touch. Like many of you, I fear that the next few weeks may be some of the most challenging in modern American history. I encourage all of us to find ways to support each other and make a difference.
See you in church,