Sisters and brothers in Christ,
In recent months, we have heard the heartbreaking news from countries and communities in
western Africa devastated by the Ebola crisis. This disease has caused suffering and pain in those places, as well as great anxiety and fear around the world. In New Jersey, we are especially aware of its effects on the many people with connections to Liberia, including at Redeemer in Trenton and Elect Saints in Hamilton. These communities struggle as this disease impacts family and friends.
In Jesus Christ, our God is present with those who suffer and shows compassion to those who are sick. As the Body of Christ, we are called to share God’s redeeming and sacrificial love with all who are hurting, grieving and in pain. It is why we hold to the Synod core value of interdependence — connected and in solidarity with all.
So what can we do? As people of faith, let us lift up the people who are facing this difficult disease in prayer, as well as those who are treating and caring for those suffering. In addition, we must keep in prayer those who live in grief and fear for family and friends in western Africa and here in New Jersey. I’ve included a prayer petition at the end of this letter that can be used in Sunday worship.
In addition, we can support those who are working to treat this disease by giving to Lutheran Disaster Response, which is providing protective gear to Phebe Hospital and Curran Lutheran Hospital in Liberia, giving food assistance to the Lutheran Church in Liberia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, and helping to raise awareness in those countries. You can click here to find more information and to give. (http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Ebola)
In the face of this tragic disease, our hope is in Jesus Christ, whose love and mercy are freely given to all. Almighty God bless those who are sick, suffering, fearful and grieving this day, and inspire us to be with them as God is with them.
Your sister in Christ,
Bishop Tracie Bartholomew
O God, your heart overflows with compassion for those who are sick and suffering. Pour out your Spirit on all those people living with Ebola, as well as their families and loved ones. We also pray for the communities and nations affected by this disease, where hearts are fearful and anxious. Grant them courage, hope and peace. Support and strengthen health and aid workers, and guide us all in ministering to their needs.