The Helpful Balance of a Few Smiles

Our Synod’s pastors were invited to a large online gathering this week to hear from well-known local Epidemiologist (and member of Edina Community Lutheran Church), Dr. Michael Osterholm.  He has been quite involved in infectious disease work around the country, and now is working with the University of MN.  Along with many of the Pastors, I tuned in to his presentation hoping to hear some advice and strategy suggestions as how we can gradually open our churches again.  He didn’t really get to those practical topics, however, as he really wanted to use his time to try and help us all understand that we are yet early in this larger pandemic challenge.  He tried to help us see that we’re in the early innings of a much longer game, and we in the church will need to continue being creative and compassionate in the new ways we are learning to reach out to our congregations and communities.  Whew!  It was a bucket of cold water splashed over a lot of church workers who are eager to re-embrace some semblance of what ministry used to look and feel like just a few months ago.   That was a lot to take in, and Pastor Kimberly and I have been in conversation about it, and other pastors have sure been chatting about it too.  All of us are hopeful to see this all go away, yet inwardly we’re figuring out the ways to be realistic about the challenges of large group gatherings, as well as interpersonal ministries.   

So here’s three things that happened to me this week that in some small way helped balance out the heavy weight of healthcare reality.  I imagine we’re all figuring out how to use prayer, loving relationships, humor, music, cooking and more to balance out the fear and foreboding.  These are admittedly small things, but they were helpful for me.  

    Picture #1 is what the Cinderella crew did with my picture.  I was supposed to be a corn stalk in this year’s church musical, and so I had a corn cob hat, and they snapped a picture of me in it.  Then, shamelessly borrowing the famous “Blue Boy” painting by Thomas Gainsborough, they created a portrait of me that I think was going to be snuck onto the stage at some point in this year’s show.  Instead the painting now graces the bulletin board outside my church office, and whenever I see it each Sunday morning, it helps me smile, and I am grateful for the way humor balances the scales between fear and enjoying life.  

    Pictures #2 & 3 are of my new Tesla.  Do you see it parked in its bay in my garage?  If not, I added a close up for you too.  During one of our family hymn sings on Facebook earlier this Spring we mentioned how a certain song could use a tambourine but that, surprisingly, we didn’t own one.  Well, our former pediatrician (from Ohio from when our boys were quite young) felt like we needed a tambourine, so he ordered one up and sent it to us.  The next week I joked that he should consider sending us a Tesla since I don’t have one of those either.  Well, another viewer family, the Fieldseths, mailed me this brand-new blue Tesla so now I am the proud owner of this unique vehicle!  Another smile to help balance the scales.  

    Lastly, Picture #4 is the fun prize that Kyle Wegner won during my May Term: Bible Jeopardy Game that was held this past Wednesday night on Zoom.  It was so fun!  I wish more of you could have played along.  (Hint Hint – there are so many fun ideas for May Term – please consider choosing one and enjoy a unique event as part of your May online activities.  See the link below this Pondering for more information and to get signed up.)  Kyle wagered his Jeopardy points well and came out on top and so won this fabulous prize: a Nerf football with the all-too-Lutheran phrase on it, “And Also With You.”   

Again, it was good for a smile and a laugh.  Keep figuring out how to employ humor, prayer, family conference calls, singing, quiet moments, movies, great books, exercise, being artistic, or joining in times of worship: all to help yourself balance out the heavier, weightier news that we all have to bear these days.  Keep taking good care, and we’ll keep asking God’s help and guidance through these next weeks and months!  For however long it takes.  

God’s grace and peace to you all!  
  –Pastor Josh

Categories: Ponderings