COVID One Year Later

I have been a pastor for 31 years. It was always customary for me to visit my members when they were sick or transitioning to death. I would also visit with families after loved ones passed away to plan for their homegoing services. These and other levels of fellowship and intimacy, that we probably took for granted, were lost to us in this season. Not being able to hold your loved one’s hand in their final moments, or to celebrate their life in the customary, celebratory fashion is utterly foreign to us. In the past year it is something we had to adjust to, and it became part of our temporary “new normal.”

I hope these and other experiences have taught us all that human contact and fellowship matters. They should also have taught us to truly see one another, like never before. As a result, we can never again plead ignorance to challenges that many of our fellow Americans face every day, COVID or no COVID. Food insecurity, housing insecurity, health care insecurity, poverty-level wages, and criminal justice disparities are not new and have been exposed for all to see. While many are preparing to “re-open society” and “get back to normal,” I hope that we never return to the old normal because it was never normal or sufficient for many of us. We now have the chance to insist, in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If we will learn the lessons life is trying to teach us, we have an opportunity to do it better this time and become a more decent, fair, and just society.

Rev. Stephen Tillett, Pastor of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church, Annapolis, MD