From the Rector's Desk
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin
Rector, St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
Dear Ones,
You are very much on my heart and mind right now.

When 9-11 occurred, I was serving a church in downtown Philadelphia. We put up flyers on street corners announcing an interfaith prayer service. Then, as in olden days, we began ringing the church bell – and we rang it and rang it until the church was full to the brim. And then we prayed. We’re not going to do that this time.

I want nothing more than to see each and every one of you, and call the community together in prayer. But the situation today means we’re going to pray in a new way.

When you read or hear this message, I invite you to stop, breathe, set aside a few moments, remember that you are in the presence and loving arms of God, and lift up in prayer those who are on your heart.

I am praying for my family, for our congregation, for my neighbors, for this city and nation. I am praying for God to bless those who are sick or dying, and to strengthen all who are caring for the needs of others. I am praying especially for the most vulnerable, for those who have been impoverished and have few resources to face these challenging times.
 
In our own St. Columba’s community I invite you to pray for Shane Green who died early this morning following a recent diagnosis of a fast-moving cancer. May God receive Shane in loving mercy. Pray for Shane’s wife Viviana and their three beautiful children, Gabriela, Javier, and Emilia. Pray also for the guests of our Water Ministry and for those who prepare and serve meals; for, even with the building closed, they have found creative ways to serve a delicious lunch.

I am praying that God may be present to me and to each of us when we feel anxious or afraid, that God may turn our hearts outward with compassion and love toward others.

Now, I am giving thanks for this circle of prayer, this circle of love, this circle of hope – that refreshed in God’s love, I may reach out in love to others. In Christ Jesus, Amen.

In other pastoral news, the Memorial Services for Lois Hermann and William Warren Greenwood have been postponed until further notice. If you know of people in need of our prayer or have particular petitions on your heart, please let me know – and you can email pastoral@columba.org .

May God bless you and hold you close.
Peace!
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin, Rector

I close with a poem by Lynn Ungar, a minister in San Francisco, and a prayer by my colleague, Sam Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.

Pandemic
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
--Lynn Ungar 03.11.20

O God of healing and hope,
in Jesus you meet us in our places of pain and fear.
Look with mercy on those who have contracted the new virus,
on any who are vulnerable, and on all who feel in danger.
Through this time of global concern,
by your Holy Spirit bring out the best not the worst in us.
Make us more aware of our interdependence on each other,
and of the strength that comes from being one body in you.
Through Christ our wounded healer. Amen.