Preacher: “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.” Seeker: We are living in precarious times. One's health and the health of our neighbors has taken over our thinking and has changed our way of life. Preacher: “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.” Seeker: The news of mounting illness and death brings sadness to the heart. And the fear that we too may suffer illness or death casts a pall on our living, How can we go on? Preacher: “I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.” Seeker: Social distancing makes it hard to be strong together. Strength in numbers used to be a good solution in times of fear. But that type of banding together threatens to cause the very thing we fear. How can we lift up others when we are not together? How can we worship our Lord God when we are scattered? Preacher: I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many-- terror all around!-- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.” Seeker: This type of fear and situation is very similar to what our spiritual forebearers in both the Old and New Testament faced. They found ways to stay in community even when the distances between them seemed insurmountable. Preacher: “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." Seeker: If we can remember that our common faith unites us and holds us together, we can survive these times. Our spiritual forebearers were tasked with this, and made it through. Let us draw on their strength and wisdom now. Preacher: “My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.” Seeker: The prophets wrote to encourage those who had been taken from their homes and their lives. The Lord God promised them a better future than what their present was. Preacher: “Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” Seeker: We lift up to the Lord our brothers and sisters who live in fear – next door and around the world. We lift up the women and men who are putting their lives on the line to save the multitudes who are ill. We lift up the workers who risk their health so that we can have the provisions we need. The Lord God has said we are not called to a live of fear; but it seems that fear is crouching in the shadows waiting to attack us. May we live bravely, facing our fears, and may the necessary distance between us not cause our hearts to become cold and unfeeling. May the Lord God unite us in love and keep the fear at bay. May we be brave in the face our fears for our global health. May there be peace in our souls, and may our best hopes rest in the Lord God Jesus Christ. Shalom and Selah!