Pandemic Ponderings of the Transitional Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley

March 29, 2021

Sue Westfall


Hosanna. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! Mark 11:9

With palms waving the congregations of Sheppards and Lapsley observed Palm Sunday yesterday and ushered the people into Holy Week. I tuned in to a number of excellent services, the first of many commemorating Jesus’ final week of life. (Thank your pastors and musicians and all who are pouring heart and soul into crafting meaningful services this week. Know that I am praying specifically for you.) What has kept ringing in my mind and heart since yesterday is that acclamation – it’s really a prayer – Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna! Save us now as Alabama mourns the deaths of those killed last week in the tornadoes that roared across the state and prays for those rebuilding their lives after all that destruction. In the aftermath of the Fultondale tornado, Ralls applied to and we received a grant from the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance of $7500 for relief efforts there. Although no Presbyterian churches were damaged in that tornado nor the ones last week, the money from the PDA can be applied wherever there is need. (Give generously to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering which funds the PDA.) Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna! Save us now as the murder trial of Derek Chauvin get underway in Minneapolis. Mr. Chauvin held his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes. Nine Minutes. O you who were undergoing your own trial before the Sanhedrin this week, attend the trial of Derek Chauvin and bring about justice. Be with the jury, the attorneys, the judge, the families. Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna! Save us now as we reel from yet more mass shootings, the most recent in Boulder, Colorado, were 10 people perished and 10 families’ lives were shattered. Save us now from our refusal to ban assault rifles and enact sensible guns laws while respecting the 2nd amendment. Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna! Save us now as just two weeks earlier eight people were murdered in Atlanta, six of them Asians Americans. This from a statement put out by the Asian American, Pacific Islander (AAPI) former moderators of the PCUSA: “We have observed that many non-AAPI members in our communities, social media users, in the media, and of the wider body politic fail to recognize the misogyny and anti-Asian racism underlying the massacre that occurred in Atlanta. The Atlanta massacre and the reprehensible description of it as a sex-addict seeking liberation while having a “bad day” are stark symptoms of the deeper poison that has sickened our nation since its founding, namely white supremacy. The Atlanta massacre is a tip of an iceberg of discrimination that AAPI communities — whether immigrants, naturalized, or descendants of immigrants — have endured for generations. We cannot remain silent.” Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna! Save us now from the pandemic that continues to stalk our nation and the world. So much death. So much loss. With thanksgiving for the rising numbers who are being vaccinated and thanksgiving for the scientists who made a vaccine possible, may we seek to act wisely and compassionately till we have reached herd immunity when everyone will be safer. Hosanna! Save us now.

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. The final line of that hymn speaks a word into our Holy Week observations. “Hosanna in the highest” that ancient song we sing. For Christ is our redeemer, the Lord of Heaven, our King. O may we ever praise him with heart and life and voice, and in his blissful presence, eternally rejoice.

As ever in prayer in this holiest of weeks,



You are invited to join me this Thursday for a brief time of check-in and reflection on the significance of what the church commemorates this week. We will meet an hour earlier than usual since many of you will be needing to prepare for services. So we will meet at 3:00pm and the link is

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