Guest column: In times of certainty, rely on all your communities

BR Leads Think Pieces

by Raymond A. Jetson for The Advocate

On Sunday Dec. 31, 2017, I stood before the people of the Star Hill Church and delivered my final sermon as their pastor. For 23 years of Sundays and Wednesdays, we had assumed our respective positions in a mutual search for meaning, purpose and wisdom.

A dear friend recently sent a text message asking what I would say to those precious people today. I’ve dwelled on her question ever since — and many other questions, too.

What do I say in the midst of such disruption and uncertainty? What words can calm hearts, minds and spirits that have been bombarded with alarm after heightened alarm? What would I say to bring some sense of stability to this cauldron of disequilibrium? What are the spiritual truths that can be applied to the COVID-19 world? What can I suggest people do when I don’t know what to do?

What do I say in the midst of such disruption and uncertainty? What words can calm hearts, minds and spirits that have been bombarded with alarm after heightened alarm? What would I say to bring some sense of stability to this cauldron of disequilibrium? What are the spiritual truths that can be applied to the COVID-19 world? What can I suggest people do when I don’t know what to do?

And one last thing. I would point out that Jehosaphat invited others in his community to join him in responding to his predicament. Adults, children and the older members of the community all came together in the face of adversity. They were, after all, in it together.

Just as we are all in this together. Now is not the time for heroic individualism. Withdrawal and isolation are actually part of the attack, not part of the answer. Our village, tribe, congregation, parish, neighborhood, family, friends and colleagues are all part of our arsenal in moments like these. We can create new ways of connecting, try video chats in addition to phone calls, and stand across the street as we engage neighbors. But above all else, we can be intentional in sustaining these relationships.

What should we do when we don’t know what to do? Embrace these relationships. Make the most of them. Treasure them.

Raymond A. Jetson heads the Baton Rouge nonprofit MetroMorphosis.