Across the Pastor’s Desk: Peace in the midst of the chaos

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson

Josh Enderson


For all of us, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind of health recommendations and new terms relating to COVID-19. We went from washing our hands and sneezing into our elbows to social distancing and everything shutting down. Like many people, your local clergy and congregational leaders have had to face difficult decisions in the past weeks regarding worship and other events. We’ve struggled with these decisions, wondering if we’ve done enough or too little. We listen to recommendations, take them in, make a plan, settle down thinking that we’ve got a plan in place, only to have a new set of recommendations come at us.

Email newsletter signup

Like all of you, this is coming at us fast.

After a weekend of tough decisions where my councils and leadership decided to cancel public worship and activities for a while, I went into the office on Monday to do some things that needed to be done. I was in a bit of a whirlwind, stressing about things that needed to be done to get the word out, planning for an upcoming funeral, and just a bit tired from all the decisions and stress of the past week.

As I rushed toward my office door, I looked over my shoulder and into the sanctuary.

My office sits on the second floor and there is a big bank of windows that look down into the sanctuary right next to my office door. On Monday, it was cloudy, so the sanctuary was dark.

But, right in the middle of the darkened sanctuary the light of the sanctuary lamp stood out, offering a sense of calm that I don’t think I’ve experienced all week.

It was a reminder that, in the chaos that is all around us right now, we all need to stop and center ourselves from time to time. We need to regularly step back from the continuous news coverage and take a deep breath, and remember that God’s presence surrounds us, no matter what we go through. We need to pause and sit in the deep peace of God.

In Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels, they tell the story of Jesus and his disciples getting stuck in a storm while in a boat. While the disciples fret and worry about the chaos swirling around them, Jesus is asleep in the boat. They finally wake him up, and he stills the storm.

Now, I’m not saying that we don’t need doctors to cure this thing, as if we say enough prayers in the right way and Jesus will wake up and cure this thing. During this time we need to listen to the recommendations coming from doctors and public health and the CDC. And God does some of God’s greatest healing work through the hands and brains of doctors, nurses, researchers and scientists.

But, when the news gets overwhelming, when your continuous scrolling through Facebook has you convinced the world is ending, turn it off for a moment. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Read scripture. Or just sit silently in God’s presence. Re-center yourself, just for a moment. The news will still be there when you turn the TV back on or open the computer screen again. Take a moment to rest with the one who is sitting in the boat with you through the storm. Find peace in the midst of the chaos. Care for your neighbor. Take a deep breath, and we’ll get through this together.

Joshua Enderson is a pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.