SGNs: Centripetal

Welcome to the Evertsberg’s home. Bill reveals some of the positive developments happening amidst the coronavirus, shares the importance of Psalm 130, and finishes by including a Chancel Choir performance of “Out of the Deep” from Requiem by John Rutter.

Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg. I’m one of the pastors at Kenilworth Union Church and this is Doogie, the Walmart greeter at Kenilworth Union—well not just now, but usually.

So I want to thank you for maintaining your connection to your church. On Maundy Thursday, we had 225 screens tune in to our Tenebrae service, which is way, way more than we would have had if we were together in our sanctuary on a normal Maundy Thursday, which is usually about 50 people. And then again on Easter Sunday, we had 1500 screens check out our Easter worship service, which is way more than we would have had on a regular Easter service if we were to gather in the sanctuary. So thank you for checking in with Kenilworth Union on a regular basis.

So, I’m a little bit afraid that this coronavirus thing is going to out-great the Great Depression. I don’t want to put lipstick on this pig, but I’m going to play John Krasinski for a moment and give you some SGNs, Some Good News. I want to tell you some of the things I’m grateful for during these otherwise dark times.

I’m grateful for the minimal vehicular traffic on the roads just now, and the maximal pedestrian traffic. Doogie has met several hundred new dog-friends in the neighborhood this week and the week before that. And maybe you’ve seen the photos of that herd of water buffalo strolling down the center of a highway in India, or that photo of a herd of mountain goats taking over the main street in a Welsh village. Or those baby sea turtles hatching on an ordinarily crowded beach in Rio de Janeiro. So I’m grateful for all of that.

I’m grateful for the cleaner air and the smaller carbon footprint we’re leaving on the earth just now. This coronavirus, this quarantine, is teaching us how to live a smaller, leaner, less cluttered, less materialistic way of life that we will continue living when this is all over.

I’m grateful for the lower crime rate. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard any stories about looting, which is almost miraculous given that the streets are empty and the stores are all closed.

There are some bad actors out there. There are hoarders who are selling sanitizer for forty dollars a bottle, and swindlers who are taking advantage of the vulnerable by pushing fake virus tests. But in general, crime is way down.

And I’m also grateful for the way this coronavirus is bringing us all together. I know that’s a strange way of thinking about it. You know, when this all started and we all sheltered in place and we lost each other’s physical companionship, the image I had was that of a centrifuge. This virus was pushing us all out from the center, far away from each other to the extreme edge of life. And that’s true, it’s physically a centrifuge, but not spiritually and emotionally. Spiritually and emotionally, there’s something centripetal about this virus. That is to say, it’s driving us all back to the center, closer to each other. Closer to the ones we need: each other.

Because it’s teaching us something we already knew, that we are all one, we’re all the same, we’re all in this together. If Tom Hanks can catch this virus, anyone can. Mr.-fricking-Rogers caught it. This disease is no respecter of persons.

Did you hear that in Afghanistan, the Taliban is providing healthcare to residents of the areas they’re in charge of? They’re even doing a better job than the Afghani government is? And the same thing is true in Mexico, the drug cartels are providing healthcare to Mexican people.

And so, you know, the Franciscan monk and spiritual director Richard Rohr, whose books many of us have read, put it this way. He said, “If God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way to do it. This disease is no respecter, it crosses all boundaries, we all have access to the suffering, gender doesn’t matter, race doesn’t matter, nation and religion don’t matter. This is a very teachable moment.” Yes?

And so during these dark days, one of the psalms that’s been very important to me is Psalm 130, a song of lament and a cry for help. The psalmist writes,

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
O Israel, hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord there is steadfast love
and with God there is plenteous redemption.

There is a wonderful presentation of this psalm by John Rutter. It’s called “Out of the Deep” and it comes from his larger work called Requiem, which our choir performed five years ago and if you stay tuned, and if this psalm means something to you, you can listen to that performance by our choir. It’s the most poignant and evocative presentation of this psalm that I have ever heard. It begins mournful and lugubrious, but it ends with victory and triumph. So I hope it speaks to you and may the lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. Amen and goodbye.