Finding Hope: The Better Angels Among Us

By Rev. Richard Edwards, Holston Foundation Director of Stewardship

The coronavirus has changed our world. An invisible enemy that has no respect for national or state boundaries has upended our lives as we know them. A few months ago I could never have envisioned worshiping every Sunday via the computer screen in our den. I would have never given any thought to being anxious as I entered our favorite
grocery store. I couldn’t foresee doing a good part of my work for the Holston Foundation through multiple Zoom meetings. (I still think of the Brady Bunch every time our faces pop up!) And I could never fathom going 53 days without hugging or picking up my five-year-old grandson who lives just thirty minutes away. (Thankfully, we have good social distancing family visits in our driveway.)

Yet, that is how quickly our lives have changed. And the truth is, it is not clear to anyone where this crisis is leading us. When can we emerge from our homes? How long, realistically, before we have a treatment or vaccine? How will we keep the virus at bay?

Huge questions. No clear answers. And yet, in these uncertain times, I find much to be thankful for. I find reasons for hope.

Like you, I am incredibly grateful for our health care workers on the front lines, risking their lives every day to save others’ lives. For nurses, doctors, paramedics, and P.A.’s, and, yes, the people who clean our hospitals and provide critical support services, we cannot say “thank-you” enough.

For pharmacy workers, those who staff our grocery stores and those who resupply them, our law enforcement officers, our women and men in the military and national guards, our first responders, and all who are working to safeguard us and see us through these perilous times, we express deep gratitude. And for the families of all these heroes, we offer our prayers and thanksgiving.

I also think about our scientists and researchers who are working tirelessly to find treatments and vaccines. Thank God, as committed Christian disciples, we can still believe deeply in science and the critical role it plays in bringing health and wholeness.
I’m thankful for those government leaders who lead with empathy and courage, candor, and integrity. Those who seek to bring us together, and call us to a common resolve. We pray that God will continue raising up those kinds of leaders to face our greatest challenge in generations.

And to the American people (and people in all lands) who are staying at home, social distancing, wearing masks, checking on their neighbors, friends, families, and those most vulnerable among us – offering encouragement, kindness, and love – I say, “God bless you.” As someone has said, “The best in America give you the strength, courage, and inspiration to get through the worst.”

I am also deeply thankful for the many pastors and churches leading in sacrificial, caring, and creative ways in these unprecedented times. I’ve experienced powerful worship as I’ve viewed livestream services from several of Holston’s churches. I’m aware of the many Sunday School classes and Bible studies that are continuing to meet through Zoom and other platforms. And I’m thankful for the meaningful ways many of our churches are reaching out to those most in need, during a time when we cannot gather.

Recently, the Holston Foundation made available over $58,000 in emergency grant monies for Holston Conference churches that are seeking to respond to vital needs in their communities as a result of the COVID– 19 pandemic. Many wonderful grant requests were received from churches throughout Holston, and 59 of our churches received grant funds. These funds helped to support their Christ-like efforts to feed hungry people and help supply other needs in this time of pandemic and economic crisis. God is moving powerfully among the churches of Holston in this formidable time.

On March 4, 1861, our newly elected President, Abraham Lincoln, spoke to a deeply divided nation in his first inaugural address. In the face of a coming Civil War which would commence in just thirty-nine days, Abraham Lincoln called upon Americans, north and south, to seek “the better angels of our nature.” That same call is going out today, and I remain hopeful and thankful that many Americans, and citizens of the world, are answering in ways that will lead to the greater good and the healing of this land and the lands beyond our shores. May we, as followers of Christ, and the Wesleyan way, daily summon our ‘better angels’ to help meet the enormous challenges ahead. We do so in the hope of the living Christ.