Toilet paper and the pandemic. Do you recall the rush on toilet paper last March when the pandemic hit? The most frequent topics of Facebook posts at that time, at least in the Glenwood area, concerned the previously mundane issue of purchasing of toilet paper: which stores had toilet paper in stock, what the limit was as to how many packages could be purchased at one time, and at what time of the day toilet paper shelves were stocked. One thing Eric and I learned during this ‘crisis’ was that we have definite preferences in toilet paper brand and type!
Things in life that we once took for granted, such as the availability of toilet paper, gained appreciation once the pandemic hit. Along with it came the addition of stress in our lives. Although the toilet paper crisis has ended, for now, all of us are carrying ongoing stress in our lives, thanks to the pandemic. For many parents, it has been finding childcare and re-arranging work schedules to accommodate distance learning with kids of school age. For the ‘sandwich’ generation—like myself—the ongoing stress has been on how to spend time in new and safe ways with elderly parents and young grandchildren. And for the elderly, there is the ongoing stress of additional restrictions to daily life, especially concerning get-togethers with friends and family.
Naturally, scripture offers guidance and comfort during this time of ongoing stress. Take for instance Jesus’ descriptive teaching on learning to trust in our loving God:
Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6: 26)
This message of divine provision is echoed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread. . . “
My personal interpretation of these passages is not that people of faith have no need to care for themselves (think of those congregations reported in the news that believe following CDC guidelines on gathering for worship during the pandemic is a sign of lack of faith in the power of Jesus), but rather to trust that God has gifted us with the ability to adapt to adverse conditions through wisdom, compassion, community, and experience, all while maintaining faith in the God who provides.
During the entire month of October, the theme for Sunday worship will be on the providence of God at work in a world whose mindset is that of continual scarcity. The title of my sermon series, Scare City, is a play on the word, ‘scarcity’. Its theme is on God’s call for us as a Christian community to be the visible expression to the wider community of God’s abundant and ever-flowing grace. My prayer is that you will take this journey with me, either through in-person worship or through online worship.
May you experience peace through God’s provision during stressful times.
And remember, you are not alone!