The Rev. Karen Ann Campbell of Christ Episcopal Church, the...

The Rev. Karen Ann Campbell of Christ Episcopal Church, the Rev. Mark Bigelow of The Congregational Church of Huntington, and I.J. Singh, author of essays on his journey as a Sikh in America. Credit: Karen Ann Campbell; Alexandra Bigelow; I.J. Singh

The COVID-19 pandemic has many tuning in to government officials, scientists and health care experts for daily information and guidance. This week’s clergy discuss how faith leaders and scriptural teachings can offer light in these difficult times.

The Rev. Karen Ann Campbell

Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Sag Harbor

Most of us are craving intimacy. We want reassurance that we are loved and cared for, not abandoned in our isolation. To paraphrase the 1960s pop song by Burt Bacharach: What the world needs now is Jesus’ love! We need to know that Jesus tenderly loves us and cares for us like a good parent.

The New Testament is all about Jesus’ great love for humanity. In Scripture, in the weeks after Easter, Jesus’ followers meet him while engaged in everyday activities. Even in pandemic times, Jesus will still eat with us; he will remind us that he loves us enough to come to Earth, to live, to pursue justice, to die and to rise again. Jesus reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God; not even this virus.

If it helps you to remember that Jesus is present in the ordinary things of life, set an extra place at the table. Experience Jesus overcoming all barriers to eat with you. Just as he did in the Upper Room and on The Road to Emmaus, Jesus will penetrate the boundaries of our confinement and be our companion on this new journey.

I.J. Singh

Bellmore author of essays on his journey as a Sikh in America

The coronavirus that surfaced just months ago, like a nuclear disaster, is an existential threat to life on Earth. There is some hope on the horizon, yet one may wonder, "Has the Creator abandoned his creation, including all human life?" Surely, many believe that people have forgotten God, and this is his retribution. Prayers might calm and focus our mind but not prevent further suffering. What next?

As a Sikh, I lean on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of our religion. They remind us that pleasure and pain are two robes in our wardrobe. Each of us dons one or the other in turn. We need to cultivate the state of mind that welcomes both and anticipates the change of seasons with patience and equanimity. Each moment heralds the new and anticipated; some changes are more welcome than others. Variety is the richness of life. Accept it and work with it.

“Guru Granth,” the central religious Scripture of Sikhism, tells us that even the most undesirable event can become the positive agent of change. Remember that this, too, shall pass.

The Rev. Mark Bigelow

Pastor, The Congregational Church of Huntington, United Church of Christ

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the most basic of human needs. The fundamental needs to connect with and serve one another are seemingly denied in our shelter-at-home world. These are the very activities that our religious traditions support. To stop the spread of the coronavirus, we need to practice social distancing, which goes against our essential need for human touch and precludes many of the activities we do to help each other.

This violation of our natural desires can lead to a deep sense of despair. The most serious example of this is the current inability to gather at the time of death. These basic needs — human connection, service and hope — are the core missions of our faith traditions. We always promote these values, generally taking them for granted. The challenge now is to serve these needs in new modes — virtually.

We are doing this through online worship and prayer groups, new ways of giving and serving, and consistent contacts. This is the hour for faith groups to do what they do best — build community, offer service and lift up hope. This is our hour.

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