Churches and synagogues are closed by state order amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but we want to help local pastors, rabbis, priests and other ministers address their congregations — and not just them, but the entire congregated readership of this newspaper.
In this time of quarantine — the most serious season of Lent we have ever known — some houses of worship are using livestreams, video recordings and other means to reach their people. That’s great, but not every pastor can transmit that way, and not every churchgoer can receive it. We have an idea to widen their reach — by a lot.
We are asking that these ministers write sermons, of no more than 1,000 words each, and submit them to us at email@example.com or on our website under “Submit News.” Then we will run them on the Opinion page, similar to the way we do with citizens’ Guest Commentary essays.
It’s actually an idea we have wanted to enact for years. But we figured we needed to contact each pastor to gauge their interest and what would work best for them. We wondered whether we should work out some kind of rotation between willing participants, and worried that they might not agree on the format. We also knew each minister’s message would be a different length, and that some write their sermons out entirely while others go from notes.
But now, suddenly, there isn’t much of an alternative. These ministers are largely stuck home with no congregation to hear them, and their people are missing them. Also, there are masses of people stuck home, processing all kinds of difficult emotions and probably more in need than ever of the insight, wisdom and hope a good sermon can bring.
Many, in fact, have never heard one, especially younger people whose parents may have long ago left the religious tradition they were raised with. We understand why, and we are not necessarily trying to convert anyone. But a good sermon provides a universal light in the darkness and fog, and God knows we could use some of that now.