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Pastoral Messages of Hope

pastoral messages of hope
The Rev. Corrine Dautrich

Happy spring! People of faith know it’s the second year that major holidays and celebrations are impacted by the COVID-19restrictions.  Synagogues and churches are modifying traditions to broadcast on Zoom or Facebook Live. The same is true at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network.  We are finding new ways to gather, worship and visit. 

Passover, the Jewish festival marking the emancipation of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, began March 27 and ends today, April 4.  For Christians, Holy Week started with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter, also today. 

Both Passover and Holy Week recall tragedy and triumph.  The Passover story points out the suffering the Israelites endured in slavery. The plagues caused much sorrow and loss. Holy Week recalls the tragic final days of Jesus’s life and his triumph over death on Easter morning. Hasn’t the past year offered us the same, tragic moments mixed with triumph and progress? 

These holy days and the stories which make them so rich to our faith and lives are about gratitude and hope.  They reveal the injustices and suffering of faithful people.  Even if traditions have to be modified, we are still able to draw on the resilience of our ancestors to help us find meaning in these turbulent times.  We have much to be grateful for.  The vaccines and the hope they offer to help end this pandemic is something to be celebrated.  Our faith has surely been tested, but we are people who find hope and happiness in an awesome God who continues to help us to the promised land.  We aren’t there yet, but we know the Israelites did get to enter that promised land.  So will we.  May this prayer help you on your journey and be a source of comfort and hope.

Source of Blessing:

Our lives are in turmoil
Our hearts heavy
Help us to cope
With this modern plague
We are worried for our families,
We are concerned for our communities,
Our world is on the brink.

Bless us with strength.

Source of Mercy:

We pray for courage
To stay strong
For those in our care,
And for ourselves.
We pray for insight
To act in loving ways
To keep our communities safe.

Bless us with strength.

Source of Hope:

We pray for those
Who are at greatest risk
Vulnerable and scared
Isolated and lonely,
And for those heroes
Leading on the front lines
Who keep us alive and fed.

Bless us with strength.

Source of Life:

Throughout history
Our people have faced plagues,
Forced expulsions, slavery,
Exile and extermination.
We have walked in narrow places
Wandered many deserts
Sustain us now,

Bless us with strength.

Source of Love:

We celebrate our fortitude
Our shared history
The traditions which have gifted us the DNA,
Spiritual armor
To overcome
This modern imprisonment.

Bless us with strength.

Source of Healing:

We give thanks for the gifts
Sometimes taken for granted
Our homes, our families,
Friends, communities,
We are blessed to connect with
Technology and computers.
May we honor this sharing.

Bless us with strength.

Source of Courage:

Quell our anxiety,
Keep us safe
Help us continue to pray
Sing and study
We see the light of redemption
Just beyond the horizon.
Let us virtually join hands
And march together
Towards the promised land.

Bless us with freedom.


(Written by Rabbinic Pastor/Cantor Lisa L. Levine, April 2020)

October 19

“Saved my butt!”

I love our residents! They continue to inspire me with their resilient attitudes and outlook on life. What a joy it’s been seeing smiles on family member’s faces (through their masks) and on the residents upon being reunited again. Because of the seasonably warm and sunny days, outdoor visits have been a real boost to residents’ morale and spirits.

We are three weeks into Sunday worship services again at GSH-Bethlehem. When asked the question, “How do you know God is with you?” one resident replied, “He saved my butt, after my accident!” Another responded; “He watched over me when I was in a coma for three years.” The residents “get it.” They know the power of God’s love and presence in their lives. Many have experienced life altering events that would truly test a person’s faith and belief in a God. They are able to articulate an understanding of life in real terms of their experiences. Many times I come away with asking myself who was ministering to who….they always bless me in more ways than I seem to offer them.

So I would ask you, how do you know God is with you? Surely, there are countless ways that may come to mind. Is it in the holding of a baby, being with family members, feeling the love of a pet, watching a sunrise or sunset, listening to music, or the warm embrace of a partner/spouse? Whatever ways are real for you, pause to give thanks. Take a deep breath knowing we are not alone in this world.

Today we will experience less than 11 hours of daylight. The air is changing, the leaves are falling, and our country is moving forward with voting for the next president. The coronavirus continues to impact our work. I trust we are right where we are supposed to be on life’s journey.

In the midst of our day, Lord, remind us you are always with us. Reveal to us the light of your love and the hope for a brighter tomorrow. We pray for our country, its leaders and the responsibility we have of participating in the democratic process. This too shall pass, as we are all in this together. Amen

October 5

All Hands On Deck

Teamwork is a word that keeps coming to mind the past week; for everyday I’ve seen and been included in examples where teamwork saved the day.

Consider the steps needed to begin family visits for the 99 residents at Raker. It’s taken input and support from every department to pull it off. In just the first week, we had 34 visits! The weather has been cooperative and I think I could speak for many of us, seeing the joy in the faces of our residents and their loved ones at the sight of each other has been a true gift! Sure many of the residents have been able to face-time or speak with their family members over the past seven months; but being reunited again and seeing them in person is far better than a virtual connection.

Yesterday’s breakfast for the residents at Good Shepherd Home Bethlehem was delayed because of food truck issues. When the menu items finally arrived, staff had to scoop eggs, and put bacon and sausage on Styrofoam plates for everyone. It was an “all hands on deck” effort. It was another example of how teamwork was essential to complete the task, so everyone could have their meal. Needless to say, everyone was served their breakfast before worship.

I know each of us have stories we can share about how teamwork has played a vital role in our work, family, and careers. Whether playing on a sports team, serving in the military, being on a committee, or any other setting where teamwork is valued, working together as a team always goes a long way towards a common goal.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to work with others on the team. Guide our work and help us to trust one another enough to know we have each other’s backs. Open our hearts to ways we can continue to serve you and others. Remind us, yet again, we are all in this together. Amen

August 31

Wakanda Forever!

We have learned the news we’ve lost another person who had a great impact on others – Chadwick Boseman. He was the young actor who portrayed in movies such as 42, which was the story about Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, the story about the civil rights lawyer. But, he was most known for his role as T’ Challa, king of the fictional African country Wakanda, and who doubles as Black Panther, the Marvel superhero who tackles complex and serious issues with amazing special effects.

Boseman was only 43 years old. He died after a four year battle with colon cancer. His contributions to society and the role he played inspiring young children who also were battling cancer, were significant.

On my drive to work this morning, I saw at least five school buses. Today marks the first day when many schools are re-opening again after being closed since mid March. Imagine the anxiety, uncertainty, fear, excitement, and many other feelings children, teachers and administrators will feel as the day unfolds. Maybe you are a parent who is also anxious about what today holds for your child(children). Please breathe!

Even if Wakanda is a fictional country, the quote above is surely one to hold on to these days. As we finish the last day of August and are on the cusp of another month, may we work to be an example of how to treat each other. It starts by being kind and compassionate towards others. It begins by building bridges of hope and light for others who need our support. We are all super heros who have the power to stick together as we combat and overcome whatever comes our way.

God, as we step into this new day, open our hearts to greater understanding. Guide our paths and struggles, reminding us that we are all in this together. Amen

August 10

Look Up

Do you find rest in renewal at the beach or are you a person who prefers the mountains for respite? No matter your preference; each setting offers us the wonders of creation, often amazing sunrises and sunsets, and the opportunity to replenish our soul to move forward. 

When the psalmist writes of fear, we get a sense that it exists, but it doesn’t have power over their life.  If you take the time to read all of the 14 verses of this psalm you may be inspired to learn the resolve and belief in the Lord that enables the writer to face any challenge that comes their way.

What fears  and dangers keep you from taking the next step? Can you name them?  Maybe some time away by a lake or in the mountains could allow you the space so you can process your fears and get re-centered for the coming months.  If you can’t get the time away, take the time to look up where you are.  There are revelations in the early morning sky and at dusk that can calm your anxieties and offer you hope and peace. 

The last verse of this psalm is “wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Great giver of hope and light, when the stress is near, and the fears are great, may we remember to look up to you for the assurance that you are near and we are all in this together. Amen

August 4

Splashdown Landing

Imagine having been in space for the past 2 months and just returning to earth yesterday! A summer vacation orbiting over a thousand times around earth. Think of how much has changed in the past two months. Lucky for us we were able to see the LIVE landing of the Space X Dragon mission landing in the Gulf of Mexico waters Sunday at 2:48 p.m. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely completed this amazing mission and it was wonderful to watch some of it take place in real time.

We’ve turned the page on a new month – August – one of my favorites. What are you hopeful for this month? How is your spirit as we chart new waters of optimism for kids returning back to school and sports this fall? Were you prepared for tropical storm Isaias which brought some gusty winds and driving rain? The Raker Center welcomed its new administrator, Chris Fistner. And Monday was the first day for Michael Spigel, Good Shepherd’s new president & CEO. Please keep both of them in your prayers as they begin their work. I hope they both have as smooth of a transition to Good Shepherd, as the astronauts did returning back to the earth’s surface.

God of new beginnings and unchartered waters, send down your grace upon each one of us today. Guide our paths and offer us splashdown landings full of hope, light and compassion. May we resolve to keep the faith, hold on, and keep working…knowing we are all in this together. Amen

June 29


The definition of perseverance is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

It’s hard to believe five months have passed since the great basketball player Kobe Bryant tragically died along with his beloved daughter and seven others in a helicopter accident. Just think how much has changed in the past five months! One thing that hasn’t changed is our resolve to stay strong and work together through the COVID-19 pandemic.

When I look at Kobe’s quote, it surely applies to our current situation. He was such a great man on and off the basketball court, and his perseverance in becoming great, overcoming obstacles, and putting in hard work in order to succeed, were evident in all the results he achieved. We too, are rising to meet every challenge, staying in the game for the long haul, and persevering so that we can realize our goals.

Dear friends, we moved into the green phase on Friday, nearing the end of the fiscal year, are safely into the summer, and we are on the edge of completing another month. We have much to be grateful for. But there is still much work to be done. There are still many challenges our country faces. There are challenges Good Shepherd faces. Surely, there are challenges in your personal lives too. Let us not quit, cower or run from them – but face them and persevere with courage and commitment.

God of justice, guide our conversations and actions so that we might be channels of grace and peace. Remind that we are all in this together. Amen

June 23

Psalm 23 has been a mainstay at Good Shepherd.  It is even engraved on the top of the Rehabilitation Hospital building.  Although, so often used at funerals, its words are tender and comforting at any time.    The Lord is my guide, I don’t need anything else.  He leads me to where I need to be, especially when I am tired and weary.  It is in that place that I am refreshed.  He honors me and invites me into his loving arms.  He gives me blessings and tools to lead a praiseworthy life. 

These supportive and reassuring words are a wonderful prayer for the time we are in.  They remind us that we are not alone in this strange situation and that no matter what, the Lord is with us.  As we go through the days and weeks ahead, may you find the words that you need to ease your stress and give you peace.

June 15

Waiting & Listening

As we begin another week, I wonder how your spirit is today? Is it hopeful and motivated because you have a long list of things you want to accomplish today, or are you sluggish because you had such a great weekend and it’s hard to return on a Monday morning?

This version of the psalm uses “lay my requests” when it refers to going to the Lord, but another version I found uses “plead my case” which appears more active than passive in the psalmists lament before God. Which version speaks to you?

I wonder what your requests/pleas are before God this day? The verses before this one are “Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.” I don’t know about you but I’ve been doing a lot of crying and sighing in recent weeks, as the number of deaths rise from the coronavirus, and the numbers of deaths and amount of destruction that is happening in all parts of the world because of the marches/protests that focus on Black Lives Matter. We might be asking “how much longer Lord, don’t you hear our pleas for justice?”

I have to trust that God hears our pleas/requests and sighs too deep for words, as we continue to move forward in these days of the “yellow phase” of the restrictions. Just think, the green phase is on the horizon! There is an assumption the Lord is listening to our prayers, our voices, our pleas, our requests…..and the world is changing. We are beginning week 14, nearing the first day of summer, and Father’s Day, there is much to give thanks for and be grateful for. I pray that you take time today not only to make your requests made known to God, but also to listen…..listen to the still, small voice speaking to you, offering you hope, light, kindness and compassion. And then we wait…

Holy God, through the abundance of your steadfast love, shower upon us truth, justice, equality and grace, reminding us that we are all in this together. Amen

June 1

Prayer for a New Day

I wait in the obscurity of night’s last reach for the light to come.

I wait in the cold clarity of this moment for the day to dawn, for a new day to come.

I wait in the dark and reckon with my own racism.

For all the ways my silence becomes my complicity,

For all the ways my patterns of living profit me and deny others,

For all the ways my unknowing becomes a known part of injustice and violence.

I repent and pray for forgiveness, O God.

I weep this day for my country and the depth of our brokenness.

For the utter and complete failure of our leadership to reckon with truth,

For its failure to hear the cries of the widow, The pleas of the downtrodden,

The needs of the poor, the stranger, the resident alien,

For all the ways our nation has failed to protect us in this pandemic, the poor and

the imprisoned least of all,

May we find our way to our knees,

May we find healing in our cry for justice.

Loosen the blinders we wear, O God.

May our masks not cover our eyes,

May our masks not block our speech.

Help us to be the love that is your light.

Free us to be a part of the new day you offer us all,

The day that is dawning this day. Amen

This prayer was written by Glenn Mitchell, Co-Director of Oasis Ministries, based in Camp Hill, PA. It speaks to us as we try to make sense of the violence and unrest happening throughout our country and the world.

May 25

Psalm 23 has been a mainstay at Good Shepherd.  It is even engraved on the top of the Rehabilitation Hospital building.  Although, so often used at funerals, its words are tender and comforting at any time.    The Lord is my guide, I don’t need anything else.  He leads me to where I need to be, especially when I am tired and weary.  It is in that place that I am refreshed.  He honors me and invites me into his loving arms.  He gives me blessings and tools to lead a praiseworthy life. 

These supportive and reassuring words are a wonderful prayer for the time we are in.  They remind us that we are not alone in this strange situation and that no matter what, the Lord is with us.  As we go through the days and weeks ahead, may you find the words that you need to ease your stress and give you peace.

May 18

We work through hard things

If you’ve been keeping track…you’ll know we’ve passed the two-month point of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions. Imagine how much has changed over the past two months – in all areas of your life. Have you settled into new daily routines, and new ways of structuring your work/family/home lives? What have you been able to “let go of” and what new things are you embracing?

No one ever said it was going to be easy, right? But, we are doing it. We are rising to meet every challenge, we are facing all of the emotions that surface, and we are working through the hard things – together.

I want you to look at all the nouns included along with the word GRIT. There are probably some that may resonate with you more than others, but pick one and “sit with it” as the day passes today. Consider how this word might support you in all your interactions today – with patients, residents, their family members, fellow associates, and your families…even yourself. Hold on to these words, for we will need them in our toolbox for the coming weeks and months.

Gracious God, as we move into a new week, help us to maintain our resolve. Grant us grace to offer others support, as we are all in this together. Amen

May 11


As we begin the second full week in May, I wonder what lies heavy on your heart? What matters are you anxious about? What keeps you awake at night? What is your biggest fear? Maybe these are matters you’ve thought about, or maybe the fear is too great that you just “can’t go there.” Wherever you find yourself, chances are there are many people that share the same worries, fears, anxieties and doubts.

This verse from the Gospel of John offers us hope for these days. I know God knows our emotions, and cries right along with us…when the loss is so great and the feelings of sadness and despair may take over. God is aware of the suffering all around us, and knows how much we long for some good news. God is very present to us holding us and offering us grace and mercy in the midst of these pandemic days. This message is certainly something to hold on to.

As we just celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, and we recalled all the women in our lives who nurtured us, love us, support us, gave birth to us…may we be assured that our hearts need not be troubled…but rather filled with goodness, light and hope. Blessings on your day.

Holy God, look upon our troubled hearts and offer us your promises of hope and peace. Remind us again that we are all in this together. Amen

May 8

Psalm 23 has been a mainstay at Good Shepherd.  It is even engraved on the top of the Rehabilitation Hospital building.  Although, so often used at funerals, its words are tender and comforting at any time.    The Lord is my guide, I don’t need anything else.  He leads me to where I need to be, especially when I am tired and weary.  It is in that place that I am refreshed.  He honors me and invites me into his loving arms.  He gives me blessings and tools to lead a praiseworthy life. 

These supportive and reassuring words are a wonderful prayer for the time we are in.  They remind us that we are not alone in this strange situation and that no matter what, the Lord is with us.  As we go through the days and weeks ahead, may you find the words that you need to ease your stress and give you peace.

May 6

Where is your place?  Everyone has a place.  A place you go to when you need to breathe, you need to relax, you need to get away.  Everyone has a place.  It may a physical place such as your back deck that overlooks over a forest of trees.  It may be an easy chair in the living room.  It may be in the kitchen because you love to cook and bake.  It also may be a spiritual place of prayer and reading a devotional.  My place is the beach, any beach where the water rolls quietly onto the shore.  It is hard in these days of isolation to either go to that place physically or spiritually.  Parks and beaches are closed. Churches are closed. But, if we can find a quiet place where we can slow down and be still, we can find that place.  If I close my eyes, I can hear God whispering to me.  Any prayer at any time eases the soul.  If I play the sounds of the ocean on my phone, I can picture myself sitting on the beach.  We need to make time in the business of the day to go to that place.  It is a place to revive one’s soul. 

May 4

What are the old songs; Rainy days and Mondays always get me down, Manic Monday and Monday, Monday.  It seems as though, one day fades into another and the weekends get shorter and days get longer.  Sometimes with the strain of another week-“not another Monday” becomes a mantra.  It is understandable with no real definition of weekdays and weekends, no school, nothing open, that we struggle with finding an understanding of our week’s routine other than work.  All the Covid virus coping skills hand-outs remind us to find some consistency in our week.  This is an important guide.  Finding something, one thing that we do on the same day at the same time each week is helpful in grounding us in this new reality.  In addition, something positive that we can look forward to, also improves our spirits and outlook.  It renews our spirits.  So, maybe when Mondays come around, we are feeling more ordinary than down.

May God bless us with strength and imagination to renew our inner and outlives.  Amen

April 30

There is a picture in the Roberta Raker Hudders Chapel in the Rehab Hospital that says “No matter how dark the moment, anything is possible with hope”.

We care for patients who are in need of inspiration for hope and healing.  That is our model and mission.  These people want and need our words of support and encouragement.  But how do we ourselves find hope in the midst of this strange and not the typical norm. Every day we hear detailed news of the Covid virus.  Some are stories of healing while others are numbers of those who did not survive. How do we conjure up hope for our patients and ourselves.

Romans 5 tells us “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but wealso boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

This experience is a lot of character building.  But, in order to get to the other side of all of it we must have hope.  Of all the things we must endure in this time of isolation and unknowns, it is that lingering hope in our hearts that we can access at any time. How do we find healing and hope through the suffering of this virus.  Maybe it is by having faith in a loving grace filled God and knowing that through faith we are reminded that hope is always there.

April 28

We develop resilience as we encounter difficult situations and events.  Our capacity to recover comes from strength and our determination within ourselves.  Many times we don’t know how to find the fortitude to begin, go through and overcome a situation.  We just do it.  As Good Shepherd employees we already possess an internal drive and sense of calling to overcome the odds. 

This new normal that we all are encountering stretches our resilience.  We find ourselves pulled in many direction and must play multiple roles. We must remember to pause in the thick of things and refill our ability to continue.  There are many ways; prayer, meditation, rest and sometimes a simple walk, can help us refocus ourselves on some element that is normal and peaceful.  Resilience is also about perspective.  One’s adeptness to find light and grounding in the midst of chaos helps us get through, even on the worst of days. Having a great support system, even on Zoom, reminds us we are not alone outside the walls of Good Shepherd.  Through it all, we need to find our own sunshine to penetrate our soul and lift us up to herald a new day. 

Loving God, help us to find the strength and peace to face adversity knowing that you are on our side.

April 24

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self-restraint. Qur’an 02:183

Ramadan begins today for the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. It is considered one of the holiest months of the year. During Ramadan, Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Qur’an, and fast from food and drink during the sunlit hours as a means of learning self-control, gratitude, and compassion for those less fortunate. Ramadan is a month of intense spiritual rejuvenation with a heightened focus on devotion, during which Muslims spend extra time re-reading the Qur’an and performing special prayers. (www.ing.org/ramadan)

I will always remember my first hand experiences of Ramadan, dating back to when I was stationed in the Republic of Turkey at Incirlik Air Base in the early 1990s. Living in a country and experiencing its culture so vastly different than our own, enables us to gain a deeper appreciation for what we believe and why. Certainly that was the case for me. I’m grateful for my time in Turkey; for not only was I serving my country during the Desert Storm conflict but the experiences planted seeds for me to consider a call into ministry. May these holy days unfold in grace-filled ways for our Muslim sisters and brothers. Help us to gain a greater appreciation for their faith even as we deepen our own. We are all children of the Holy One, in need of healing and mercy. Amen

April 22

The Earth Day movement is celebrating 50 years! It started in April 22, 1970, when 20 million Americans took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. Read more about it at www.earthday.org.

The Earth Day 2020 theme is Climate Action. The earth has a fever and we are feeling its impacts. How might you become educated and respond to learning more about our planet and how our actions make a difference? Even though we aren’t able to hug each other, we are still able to hug a tree!

God of heaven and earth, help us to restore our planet, for it is the only one we have. Remind us we are all in this together. Amen

April 20

Today’s inspirational thought comes from the book of Proverbs, which is included in the wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible. Inscribed are verses that address the meaning of human life and right conduct and universal truths. Wisdom is considered a feminine word, and in Greek the word is sophia. Wisdom, then, is knowing what is right and true through knowledge and experience. You may want to read some of these writings in the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

Consider your hands during these pandemic times. As caregivers and health care workers, our hands are a vital part of how we are responding to all the needs around us. Even though we have to keep at a safe “social distance” we still want to reach out and help others and show them we care, through our hands. There are countless stories about how associates of Good Shepherd have been using their hands to make a difference in recent weeks. It’s inspiring to read about the ways everyone has come together to meet the challenges.

So as we begin a new work week, continue to offer your gifts and talents to others by using your hands in ways that are affirming and life-giving.

Holy God, grant us wisdom and courage to care for others, even as we care for ourselves. May we use our hands in ways that serve you and the needs of our community. Amen

April 16

Ever consider how many people you interact with on a daily basis? How many people do you speak to even before you get to your office? Or even in the course of your entire day? Tens, hundreds, for people who hold public offices, thousands!

Every interaction and contact we have with people enables us to leave an imprint of something good with them. Reading Maya Angelou’s poems and books inspire us to higher levels. Especially during these times, when our face masks cover most of our faces, and the people we interact with are only able to see our eyes.

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to touch, hug or put our arms around people to show them we care. But we are able to communicate with our eyes and our hearts a level of care and compassion. Give it a try today.

Lord, guide our interactions with people today, so they may know we value and appreciate them and we will get through this together. Amen

April 14

As gentle and calm as these waters appear, we know the times we’re living in may seem anything but peaceful and serene. I wonder how your spirit is doing today? Are you sailing along under blue skies, or feeling overturned after a storm and capsized by the waves?

This quote was written by Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, who is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is the author of many books and her teachings revolve around Buddhist concepts of overcoming subjects such as suffering, fear and difficult times. Topics very fitting for such times. Consider reading some of her work, she’s written more than three dozen books.

Surely there is much to be learned about these unusual times…what are you learning in the course of your work? How has it changed, if at all, and how is it changing you? What have you been able to “let go” of? What is “sheltering in place” teaching our children? I wonder what “lessons will be learned” when we look back over this period of time, say ten years from now.

Perhaps the most difficult lesson this COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us is, living in the fear of the unknown. It is hard to just live in the day, not knowing what tomorrow might bring. I imagine this small boat also sails into unknown waters, with more turbulent waves at times. It sails along courageously….just as we do. No matter what waters lies ahead for us, whether known or unknown…we are in the boat together.

Holy One, calm the waves to our fears of the unknown, offer us your peace and guiding Spirit. Amen

April 10

Have you ever wondered what determines the date of Easter each year? Maybe some of you already know…but for those of you who don’t, the reason is not what you might imagine. Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the Pascal Full Moon. So, you might be asking what’s the Paschal Full Moon? It is the first full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox, which signifies the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.

Since today is only Good Friday, the day when Jesus died on a cross, it seems like I am rushing through the drama and emotion of this solemn day…and wanting to fast forward quickly to the new life Easter offers. But I am fully aware of the intense passion this day signifies. It especially takes on new meaning this year. Richard Rohr reminds us “that death does not have the final word on our destiny. “ He continues, “the cross beckons us to what we would call “grief work,” holding the mystery of pain, looking right at it, and learning from it. With softened hearts, God leads us to an uncanny and newfound compassion and understanding.” (taken from Richard Rohr Daily Meditation , from the Center for Action and Contemplation).

As we journey through these Passover Days and into the final days of Holy Week and to Easter, may we travel knowing God is showering blessings upon us and the work we are doing at Good Shepherd. God is softening our hearts and using us as we offer compassion and understanding towards others. We will get through this together, knowing that something new will begin within each of us.

April 8

Passover begins today at sundown and is an eight-day festival in the Hebrew tradition. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Passover is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

In Hebrew it is known as Pesach (which means “to pass over”), because G-d passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve. Please consider learning more about the festival at www.chabad.org.

Here are the words to the Shehecheyanu, thanking God for allowing us to reach this day.

Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Happy Passover Holiday!

April 6

In the Christian liturgical calendar, this is the holiest of weeks the faithful observe.  There is a wide range of emotions we read in the scriptures; passion, abandonment, betrayal, desertion, death, and new life….all in the course of one week. 

The Jewish celebration of Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 8th and ends in the evening of April 16th. It is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays.   

Churches and synagogues will be observing these holy days in new ways this year, mostly by virtual worship spaces on Facebook or YouTube. The traditional Seder meal will not be held in synagogues, but rather families will have to observe the ritual in their homes.  Pope Francis will be preaching to an empty congregation at the Vatican. Some pastors will be trying on “virtual communion” which means members will partake the elements in the comfort of their own homes, and they will be blessed via cyber space and the Holy Spirit. All of these sacraments and rituals take on a new meaning this year. And that’s OK.

Holy Week at Good Shepherd this year will also be different.  Since we are unable to gather in small groups or hold worship services, we are limited to any programming. Palm fronds were distributed to patients, residents and staff, but there will not be a Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter service.  

Lord, journey with us during these holy days, reminding us that we are in this together, and nothing will separate us from your love.  Amen 

The Rev. Corrine Dautrich and Chaplain Kelly Brooks provide pastoral care to Good Shepherd’s residents, patients and associates.