April 29, 2020
What is Essential    

by Kristin Hicks

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,   from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.   I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.   I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,   and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NRSV)
In the last several weeks on the news we have heard constantly about essential workers in this pandemic. In the beginning of the shutdown, these workers were defined as the people who worked in jobs that had to go on so that life could continue during the shut down. These were workers whose jobs provided services/supplies that everyone needed. Workers included were doctors, nurses, first responders, police officers, delivery persons, pharmacists and grocery store clerks.

As time has gone on, I find myself adding to that list of what is essential in my life, as I imagine it has for many of us. Below are some of the workers that I believe I would add as essential for the soul. I expect there are many that you could add as well.

Our teachers are essential.
You may be as amazed as I am at the way our teachers and schools have transformed teaching and learning in a matter of days to online learning ensuring our children are not left behind. My son's teachers and school have provided comfort, love, joy and kindness through connection, innovation and imagination which our children find essential. 
Our artists are essential.
If you are like me, you were brought to tears listening to Andrea Bocelli. He sang Amazing Grace live on Easter from Milan as pictures of many of our beautiful cities and amazing architecture were broadcast over the screen. (Here is the link in case you missed it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huTUOek4LgU ). The poignant moment of the beauty and emotion of that performance was a powerful gift to experience. I find myself repeatedly drawn to the beauty that music, poetry, photography and art and literature are able to provide as a way to find light in the darkness during Covid-19.

Our Pastors and our Faith are essential
Ollie, Beverly, Anne and Erin have thoughtfully brought powerful sermons, prayers and words reminding us of God’s hand holding our own, pointing out Christ working among us, lifting our members and our world up to God in prayer and providing us with direction that is essential. I have been able to join one of the Zoom Sunday school classes, on Sunday mornings connecting with members of our church, who I miss seeing in person to continue together to seek guidance from God’s Word and learn more about how the Bible is speaking to us during this time. I have also been amazed by the leaders throughout the Presbyterian Church, which in so many ways, have reached out to one another to share resources, provide discussion, support and funding, and create and give where there is need. This sharing of our faith and resources is essential.

Keeping our minds, bodies and spirits healthy is essential
I am thankful for fitness instructors who are offering free classes online. My girls, Anna and Rachel can be heard giggling together as they workout to Madfit on Youtube. I feel very blessed to be able to walk with my husband each day through the preserve that is behind my subdivision to exercise, connect with the natural world, and give thanks for the air, the trees, and the wind on my face. I have found that I am sleeping more. Perhaps, that is because there is more to cause for concern, or perhaps it is because I actually have time to sleep rather than racing to get somewhere. Whichever it is, I am thankful for the rest that is essential to heal our bodies and minds so we are ready for what each day brings.

Connection with Family and Friends is essential 
I have found that I am connecting more often with people and have found I need this connection. Some of this is through social media. I love our new APC Family Facebook group and look forward to seeing posts from my church family. One of my childhood friends began a Facebook group to share photos of sunsets and sunrises. Many of my old friends from around the country have joined and I find myself looking forward each day to the many beautiful pictures of light from all over the US. Our extended family has been calling and Face-timing to reassure one another, to hear each others voices, and to connect with each other. We share pictures of our children and funny things to boost one another’s spirits. Connecting with one another is essential .

You are probably thinking of a few essential people that I have left off, and I am sure there are many. I could go on and on, but if you look at my list of essentials and compare it with yours, I imagine you will notice there is a thread that runs through each thing deemed essential. The essential thread of Christ working in, through, and among us. The essential thread that binds us in mind, body, and spirit with that which our Creator has made. The places and the peoples where we find God working around, on, and within. These places, these peoples, are where we find the essential meaning in our lives. These are the places where God is calling us to join him in connecting. The places that give our lives purpose. As we continue our lives during this time, may we continue to notice how essential our relationship with Christ is so that we may begin to understand how deep and how wide God’s love is for us. 
Dear loving God, help us to recognize the many essential ways you weave your love through our lives so that we might know your love and share it with our world in need. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com