Pastoral ponderings . . . 

Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, with the animals and the Tempter keeping him company.  And still he remembered that he, like us, remained “the apple of (God’s) eye” (Psalm 17). It’s comforting for me to remember that in all the stress of this Lenten season, we remain the apple of God’s eye. I’m tempted to fall into stressful living by many things:  demanding schedules, kids’ moods, the upcoming conventions and election, and last but not least COVID-19!
Having a Lenten discipline of turning it all off, even for a few quiet moments of daily prayer, and tuning into the promise of being the apple of God’s eye, can be so centering.  I am grateful that another 12 from our congregation have signed up for Pr. DanaLee’s Self-Compassion retreat again this April. She’s all about giving us ancient ways of turning off the distractions, and tuning into God’s centering presence.
If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss Eric Jensen’s article in this newsletter.  He’s talking about the tradition of giving something up for Lent.  And the temptations he’s going to face in his grandma’s kitchen over spring break.  I’m sure many of us can relate to his struggle of trying to stay true to his Lenten intentions!  He reminds us that even when our best efforts fail, we are still (and always) the apple of God’s eye.
The latest stressor is the coming of COVID-19 to Utah.  What will that mean?  What should we do to prepare?  Those questions loom for everyone, and we are all looking for good public health information.  Some of the best advice I’ve heard comes from Dr. Sue Smith Jackson, an associate professor in the Department of Public and Community Health at Utah Valley University.  She recently witnessed countless people stack cases of bottled water into their carts at the store, and a sign at Walgreens saying that all of its face masks were sold out.  She reminds us not to give in to the temptation to panic in fear.  Water from the tap will always be good enough.  Face masks are only for people who are already sick, or for medical professionals treating the sick.  Dr. Smith Jackson reminds us that good information from public health officials in this country is the best way to prepare.  They give us perspective, and the best advice which includes:  washing hands with soap and water, avoid touching our faces, and having a reasonable amount of our favorite sick day supplies on hand.  In the event of a quarantine (which she believes is highly unlikely) have enough pantry food and toilet paper for a couple weeks.
In terms of our national preparedness, the good news is that there’s bipartisan legislation being proposed in the House of Representatives called “The Global Health Security Act.”  This act would establish a Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council, requiring an annual report regarding the state of global health security, and require the creation of a special advisor to the president for global health security.  This Act would change the way we are currently responding to health security risks, and save the US trillions of dollars in the next century, along with countless lives.
The good news is that we live in a place where there is enough to share with each other, when temptations come. We will all get through this much better if we try to do it together, with concern for all. Peace be with you always!            Pastor David