Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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March 18 Post

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“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble…” - Psalm 46:1

Question: How are you staying connected?

The seagulls rose as one, their perfect synchronicity evident and unrehearsed. Rising and falling they circled the beach, then arched across the water into light. From the dawn of time, birds in flight taught us lessons on social distancing we may not previously have noticed. They draft off-wing from one another, the one before, behind, equi-distant so all may fly.

The social distancing under which we reluctantly avoid the very contact that makes us human, may also make it possible for us to move together though apart. Though separated for a time, we remain as inextricably connected with one another as birds in flight. That’s the covenant we make when we promise to love God and neighbor as self. In wedding vows, we proclaim that: “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” This reminds us that through seasons of want and plenty, through sickness and in health, we pledge to love and care for one another always in the name of the one who showed us the way.

We trust that God works for good in all things, so I’m curious about the ways God is at work through social distancing and self-quarantine. I’m wondering what imaginative ways we will stay connected as a community, whether we greet one another face to face, or not.

What if just for this week, we imagine that our survival depends as much upon our connection as our distance from those who usually join us in fight? How can we creatively connect with those in our circle of care, to let them know we love them and we are with them, until that day when we unite in the flesh once more?

Prayer: Loving and merciful God, grant the assurance that you are here now. Give the gift of quiet and rest; pour forth renewal of strength; guide our flight across new waters. And in all things, we affirm that you are indeed our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Amen.

God’s Grace, Mercy and Peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida

March 11 Post

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“You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1-2

Fear paralyzes us, the unknown growing larger in imagination by the day. As much as we dislike experiencing fear, it energizes us to avoid dangerous situations that threaten our health, safety or well-being. Nobody expects to find a saber-toothed tiger perched on top of the garage when we walk out the drive for the morning paper. Yet most golfers in Florida scan the water’s edge for alligators when their ball drops too close to the lakeshore.

It isn’t so much what we can see that scares us. It’s what lies hidden from sight. We worry about the economy tanking and potential loss of provision. We wonder whether our immune systems will hold at bay the viruses, both ancient and new that make headline news.

When I was a child, a polio outbreak in the mid-west town where I was born terrified young parents who desperately wanted to keep their children safe. Eventually people figured out how the disease was transmitted, the Salk Vaccine became widely available, and life returned to normal.

Now that we’re once again faced with a new health threat, we’re taking necessary precautions. We’re now bowing respectfully during the passing of the peace instead of shaking hands. We’re touching one another on the shoulder, or locking forearms, or issuing playful fist-bumps as we greet one another or say good-bye. We carry hand sanitizers and have parked bottles of the stuff at every exit, and soon will be spraying a layer of disinfectant mist that locks bacteria and keeps it from transferring to our hands upon contact.

We will still come to church, unless we’re auto-immune compromised, in which case we’ll participate in worship through live-streaming on-line through our church website. Either way, we’ll worship together, because fear or no fear, we know who we are and we know to whom we belong as God’s beloved own. We need God’s word of hope and the compassionate embrace of one another now more than ever. So, wash your hands and say your prayers and remember: “God is indeed our refuge and our trust.”

Prayer: Thank you God for the precious gift of life, and every day we are granted to live it. Surround us with care, lead us in light, and help us to rise up unafraid. May we trust you wholly, the source of all our days. Amen

What would make you to feel safe in such a time as this?

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
The Community Church of Vero Beach

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