Whatever is True, Whatever is Just
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– Philippians 4:8 NRSVLately, the virtual calls I’ve been joining start a little differently. We all pop onto the screen and await the start of the meeting, often in silence. Then, facilitators break the ice with, “What is something that has brought you joy recently?” My colleagues light up in their responses talking about gardening and new recipes. They share songs they love and art they’ve seen. They tell about a funny thing their pet did. In those brief moments, we get to take a break from at-home rapid tests and CDC updates to think about pure, pleasing and praiseworthy things in our lives. I am grateful for these opportunities because at some point between March 2020 and now, we grew tired and frustrated. Most of us adjusted quickly to quarantine life at the beginning of the pandemic, thinking it would soon pass. We joked about how we had to strategically shop for toilet paper at different stores. We even enjoyed church, school and entertainment virtually for the time being. But then, it didn’t pass. The curve flattened, and then it spiked again, and again. Entire families, nursing homes, classrooms and church communities have been infected. Almost 1 million people have been lost to COVID-19 in our country alone. Over 6 million worldwide. Our lives are forever changed by this. In spite of the circumstances, I try to shift my thinking to things that are true, just, commendable and excellent (Philippians 4:8 NRSV) for my own well-being. For one, the church is doing good work to stop the spread and care for people who have been affected. Episcopal Relief & Development has partnered with more dioceses and communities than ever before in the hardest-hit places in the country and around the world. As an organization, we have brought thousands of pounds of food to households in need and helped keep families in their homes with rental assistance funds. Our long-term recovery partners in North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico include COVID-19 response in their daily programming. In addition to disaster planning, home restoration projects and other recovery work, our partners have addressed the needs created by the world’s ongoing disaster. They have offered family and intimate partner violence intervention, have debunked vaccination myths and worked to fill the gap in vaccination availability in remote areas. They faced many setbacks during the pandemic including outbreaks and shutdowns. Yet, the work continues. Lives are still being changed. Of all of the rich stories partners report back, my favorite thing to hear is about all of the new relationships that have been formed. During a time when loneliness is just as rampant as the virus, churches formed bonds with people they hadn’t interacted with previously. Different dioceses combined resources to do joint responses. Episcopal camps and conference centers incorporated outreach into their business models. All of this makes for stronger communities that are even better prepared for the next disaster. Paul’s exhortation is an invitation to all of us to refocus on the growth that comes from our suffering. As survivors of a disaster that hasn’t yet ended, we could choose to let worry overcome us. Or instead, we can pause to think about higher things–truth, justice, pleasure, honor, virtue and praise. Visit our COVID-19 Pandemic Response page to learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s ongoing efforts.
|Courtney Moore is the Manager, Creative Content, Episcopal Church Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development.|