Introduction to Christ and Covid-19: Meditations for Peace in Times of Turmoil? by Rev. Robert. L. Gram.
I wrote the following for parishioners and friends of St. John's Reformed Church in Red Hook, New York. The church hired me as interim pastor last October when their full time minister underwent serious surgery, entailing several months of recuperation. The pastor's medical complications prolonged my tenure which should have ended in March. Covid-19 exploded in our area by then. We suspended worship in the sanctuary, and I started preaching on YouTube. Because of the virus, pastors couldn't perform tasks like home and hospital visitation. I felt the need to do more in light of this sudden and startling tragedy. Thus the writing of meditations compensated for the pastoral roles Covid-19 had stolen.
I retired from full time ministry in 2017. Some pastors end their careers publishing sermons, prayers, or meditations. When I left the parish I overslept for the first three months, catching up for the gradual depletion most clerics experience after decades of service. Fully awake, I still believed I had nothing to write which would interest me, let alone a passing reader. This still may be the case. But Covid-19 provided a challenge, like an onrushing train, which couldn't be ignored. In the wake of the terror, a hope dispensing Jesus needed proclamation.
The poet T.S. Eliot wrote: "And so each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate/With shabby equipment always deteriorating/In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion" (Four Quartets). That pretty much sums up my writing. I'm not indulging in false modesty. It's simply hard for words to capture the present threat. And perhaps my devotionals have a personal element which deprives of wider application. Covid-19 infiltrates not only because friends and valued colleagues have died. I am predisposed, a high risk in the coronavirus hierarchy. Maybe the preacher is preaching to his, at times, fear ridden self.