August 27, 2020
Each person has a unique character, a mix of both inherited traits and the environment they live in. And each generation is in some way shaped by the times that they live in.
My parents’ generation was shaped by the Great Depression followed by World War II. Their parents were shaped by the First World War. My generation of Canadians (with the exception of those who experienced residential school life) may have been largely shaped by the general absence of war or other major broad-based trauma.
I wonder how the pandemic we are living in right now, will shape the children and young people of today.
They are seeing their parents cope with something that nobody was prepared for. Many are seeing their parents worry about having the financial resources to support the family’s basic needs or expected pleasures. They are experiencing isolation from their friends. Group activities (sports, camps, classes, parties) that have been considered part of normal development are either absent or radically changed. They are having to learn to wear masks and to worry about contact with strangers.
As a generation fully comfortable with electronic means of communication, they are finding those skills to be central to their lives even more than before. They are likely also using their skills to help older members of the family to stay connected. Many are experiencing a new richness of family life, as everyone in the family spends so much more time together at home. Some are experiencing increased family dysfunction as everyone in the family spends so much more time together at home. They may be reading more or finding new online learning opportunities, and they are likely spending more time playing video games and wandering through YouTube.
This pandemic time has many of us re-examining priorities about how we spend our time and resources. I wonder how this translates for young people who are in the earlier stages of deciding what is important in life.
Walking my dogs
Those of us who are responsible for church leadership are wondering what all of this means for church and the future of worship. We need to make sure that, in doing our planning, we are thinking less about how to keep church the way we are used to it, and more about what church does – and can – offer to the current generation and those that follow. We need to make our planning less about what the church needs, as about what our members – and those not yet members – need from the church.
The church, and the faith that we profess, has so much to offer those who are taking a close look at what is important in their lives.
Even as we find new ways to worship and new ways to share our faith, we find strength in the timelessness of our sacred stories, and the constancy of God’s love.
God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
P.S. You might wonder why I am thinking of these things – of new pathways and familiar trails – this week. Perhaps it is partly because a decision is about to be made about the appointment of my successor as General Secretary. This will pave the way for me to retire a couple of months from now, and will let me move on confident that the church will receive the faithful and visionary leadership it needs for the time to come. Watch for an announcement on Friday!
Nora Sanders is General Secretary of The United Church of Canada.
IN THIS TIME OF COVID-19, WE PRAY: When we aren't sure, God, help us be calm; when information comes from all sides, correct and not ,help us to discern; when fear makes it hard to breathe, and anxiety seems to be the order of the day, slow us down, God; help us to reach out with our hearts, when we can't touch with our hands; help us to be socially connected, when we have to be socially distant; help us to love as perfectly as we can, knowing that "perfect love casts out all fear."
For the doctors, we pray, for the nurses, we pray, for the technicians and the janitors and the aides and the caregivers, we pray, for the researchers and theorists, the epidemiologists and investigators, for those who are sick, and those who are grieving, we pray, for all who are affected, all around the world...we pray for safety, for health, for wholeness.
May we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and house those without homes; may we walk with those who feel they are alone, and may we do all that we can to heal the sick— in spite of the epidemic, in spite of the fear.
Help us, O God, that we might help each other. In the love of the Creator, in the name of the Healer, in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all, we pray.
May it be so.
~A prayer during times of COVID-19 by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, originally posted on Facebook. Moderator Bott encourages the sharing of prayers he posts throughout his term~
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