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By Rev. Doug Leonard, World Council of Churches representative to the United Nations

This climate of public anxiety feels similar to the weeks and months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Virginia.  We all felt that the earth had changed.  On Sunday, September 16th 2001, we gathered at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City for worship.  Several members of the congregation had been killed when the Twin Towers collapsed.  The congregation was in shock.  We found comfort as the congregation sang Nearer My God to Thee.
Here is a link to a rendition of the hymn.  This may have also been the hymn sung by the crew and passengers of the Titanic as it sank.

And we found solace that morning from a congregational reading of Psalm 46 (NRSV):

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Our best way through the crisis of terrorism was to resist fear, to refuse the temptation to panic and blame, to remain calm and rational, and to trust that God is in the midst of the city.

Many people were asking during 9/11, “Where is God?”  The best answer I heard was that God was in the long lines of people who streamed into hospitals to donate blood in the anticipation of finding survivors in those first days after the attacks.  God was moving in the hearts of people as they organized rescue efforts and gathered in public parks for vigils and care of one another.

We must do the same.  We must coordinate with hospitals and health departments to recruit college students and assist in training them to provide staff back-up for the coming wave of Coronavirus cases.  We must assist in setting up temporary clinics and do all we can to gather the medical resources that will be needed.  We must organize systematic delivery of food to home-bound people.  God will be moving in these efforts.

May God be with us all as we face this crisis together.