Dear Church,

Perhaps one of the gifts available to us in these days is simplicity. I need regular reminders that not everything has to be complicated! In this crisis times, even small things—the things we would usually take for granted—make a big difference. Think of the scenes of thousands of New Yorkers out on their balconies cheering for the medical workers who are selflessly caring for so many right now; simple applause, and yet it is deeply moving. One day this week, I received two cards—two!—from members of our congregation offering their thanks and encouragement. I wept then, and I’m weeping again now, just thinking about it.

Nearly three weeks ago, on March 13th, I wrote to you as we were just entering this crisis. In response to the question, “What can each of us do?” I encouraged you to apply the Three General Rules for Methodist Societies that John Wesley and his friends developed in 1739, in the earliest days of the Methodist movement: Do No Harm, Do All the Good You Can, and Stay in Love With God (or, as Wesley put it, “attend upon the ordinances of God!” Thank goodness for modern interpretation and translation!) Today, we usually think of a rule as a law. The origin of “rule” is a Latin word, meaning “straight stick.” Think about a “rule of life”–“rule” in this sense means a pattern to follow, rather than a law to keep. These rules are meant as a guide to help us pattern our otherwise unruly lives. When everything feels complicated, these rules make things simpler, and help us determine what to do next.

So, I want to check in with you—how’s it going? I invite you to do a little self-inventory:

Do No Harm | Are you making choices based on the good of the whole? Are you considering others beyond yourself?
Do All the Good You Can | Have you found a way to offer yourself—your care, your service, in some way—to someone else? I know I have been the beneficiary of several of you who have taken time to offer a word of encouragement. What a gift!
Stay in Love with God | This time next week, we will be deep into Holy Week, the time we invite you each year to journey with Jesus to the cross and beyond to resurrection. While this season will be extra challenging this year as you keep close to home, it also brings an opportunity to take your spiritual life out of the church building and into your home in ways you’ve never tried before. Start planning now for the ways you can enter into this worship-filled season, even in the midst of challenging times. We’re working hard to equip you—check the eNews for details.

I’m praying for you to experience the gift of simplicity this week, and to let these simple rules guide your next steps. Remember that you are beloved, and while you may be by yourself, you are never alone.

Peace to you today, friends.