Pandemic Psalm

I share this beautiful Psalm by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. 


A few summers ago, Sharon and I met at a ministry retreat in the beautiful Estes Park, Colorado.  She introduced me to  her prayerful work with mandalas which inspired me to lead an Advent “Coloring with Mandalas” series based on her work.

Want to learn more about Sharon and the ministries she leads?

Visit —  Belly of the Whale Ministries

Want to learn more about Sharon’s work with praying, coloring and mandalas?

Visit — Praying with Mandalas

Peace be with you all this day,

Pastor Melinda

PS.  Join me for a yoga Thursday nights at 7pm via FB Live (@BendandBrew).  I will read this “Pandemic Psalm” as part of our practice together today (April 23).

>>> Seeking Connection >>>

What is it called when your computer or phone keeps searching and searching to connect to WiFi?  Whatever that is??

That is my inner life everyday in this pandemic.

My extrovert, verbal and physical communicator self is on OVERDRIVE seeking connection in the ways that I am hardwired to do so.

That means … my inner life looks like this:


.. while my outer life looks like this:

Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 12.12.57 PM

And I’m just going to admit it.  Skype and Zoom and all virtual connectivity is tiring.  I know I’m not alone in this; it’s tiring for all of us in different ways — not just me.

While connecting through these tools are absolutely, no-doubt-about-it, incredibly helpful to continue to work, meet and connect right now, it is tiring, nonetheless.

Some days?  It’s even just utterly exhausting.  I explain it like this.

My body keeps reaching out – sending invisible, subtle signals to communicate with other people … but all the signals go unmet right now.  My signals won’t connect because they can’t.  Zoom can’t replicate our in-person connectivity.  Zoom can’t replicate the subtle nuance to our human communication methods, neither verbal nor non-verbal.

And all of that unmet effort is just plain ole’ exhausting.

So, per Brené Brown (my all-in-#1-gal right now), I am writing myself permission slips.  And I’m writing as many as I need today.  And you bet, I’m going to write as many as I need tomorrow, too.

  • I am granting myself permission to be tired of Zoom’ing.
  • I’m granting myself permission to go outside and run when I should be picking up the disaster that is my house after morning & afternoon online school & in-home play in between.
  • I’m granting myself permission to worry less about the well-planned and well-balanced meal that somehow gets onto the table tonight.
  • I’m granting myself permission to screw up.  Because THAT right there?  is a sure bet.  Today.  Tomorrow.  In the next five minutes …
  • And?  I’m granting myself permission to forget that I’ve granted myself permission.

I invite you to allow yourself the space to be tired.  To be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot “do,” and to embrace that your capacity right now might be  diminished.  If the above practice of granting yourself permission helps – DO IT.  I highly recommend it.  I use sticky notes!

And remember … whatever connection you seek, whatever you succeed or fail at, whatever nap you take or don’t take …

You remain loved by God, and you always have a family in the church of God here at Los Altos UMC.

And as Jesus spoke to his scared, “safer-at-home” disciples after his death (John 20:19-20) …

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked …, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20

Peace be with you.

Peace be with you,

~ Pastor Melinda











It is well. With my soul.

It is well with my soul.  I am saying that over and over again in my head and heart.

As I read and re-read Governor Gavin Newsom’s “six goals that must be met to lift California coronavirus order,” in the morning’s LA Times, I found myself breathing deeply.  Again and again.  I was encouraged by the the reporting that “[the state’s] strategy to slow the spread of the virus is working, pointing to relatively low growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations as evidence that staying home and social distancing are preventing a surge of infections.”  But as I kept reading, I found my own suspicions that our “new normal” path is needing to become a prolonged trek of all of us.  What we were forced to throw into place as emergency defense needs to grow into an ongoing strategy for offense against the novel Coronavirus.

Whoa.  Yep.  Long haul with significant and prolonged change lies ahead.  

As I read and breathed, as I took in and began to process what seem to be the inevitable steps ahead, this hymn bubbled up from I know not where.  It just sort of came up and through me, and I started to hum it to myself …

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

As I hummed to myself, certain images also bubbled up:

Images of the Los Altos UM church gathering tonight in a variety of Brady-Bunch style discipleship small groups over Zoom.  Patterned after our Everyone’s Inn small groups (and prior to that … our Wesleyan heritage), age-based and stage of life and reading groups alike will convene and God will do God’s work amongst the church.

Images of the Los Altos UM expanded church who will gather tomorrow night joining in the practice of yoga poses as a discipline of body prayer via FB live from our sanctuary.

Images of the Los Altos UM in Sunday worship dialogue with Pastor Mark.

Images of our Los Altos UMchildren responding to the children’s Sunday YouTube message and writing their cards and notes to our homebound.


And how all of these spaces are offering places of discipleship, points of relational connection and formation and enhancement.  These spaces have been convened and led by both laity and clergy, and it is this work, these gatherings, this church that offers me great hope in this time.

I wonder what other spaces and people and images and relationships are yet to bubble forth?

You see, even as our civic life has shifted and will continue to emerge, I have no doubt that Jesus is at work amongst and through us.

And while there is deep uncertainty and many questions in my head, it is well with my soul.

Maundy Thursday Love & Video

YouTube Maundy Thursday Video

(Made for you by yours truly)

Whether we are ready or not, here we are.  I’m feeling pretty sure that the early disciples where just as unprepared and weary as I feel today.  But?  God doesn’t need me or you to be prepared.  God needs us to show up, remember, and love.


So here we are: the triuduum of Holy Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  I invite you this day to join me to simply show up and remember.  And, I have collected a few things to help us on this particular Maundy Thursday journey.

(The Maundy Thursday YouTube video includes most of what is listed below.)


Let’s pray:

Holy God, source of all love,
on the night of his betrayal,
Jesus gave us a new commandment,
to love one another as he loves us.
Write this commandment in our hearts,
and give us the will to serve others
as he was servant of all,
your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Let’s read some:  (suggested readings)

  • Exodus 12:1-14  (Scriptural Roots of Passover (preview prior to reading with younger’s)
  • Psalm  116 (Psalm of Comfort in Time of Need)
  • Gospel: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (Jesus’ foot washing; New Commandment)
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  (Eucharist Text)


Let’s listen: “Be Still My Soul” played by Derek Gordon


Let’s pray some more.  Light a candle if you have one.


Prayer of Intercession for All of Us

United with Christians around the globe on this Maundy Thursday, let us pray for the church, the earth, our troubled world, and all in need, responding to each petition with the words, Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great.


Blessed are you, holy God, for the church.  Strengthen the body of your people even when we cannot assemble for worship. Grant our pastor and church leaders faithfulness and creativity for their ministry in this time. 


Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great.

Blessed are you, holy God, for this good earth and for the flowering of springtime. Save dry lands from destructive droughts. Protect the waters from pollution. Allow in this time the planting of fields for food. Make us into caregivers of your plants and animals. 


Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great. 

Blessed are you, holy God, for our nation. Inspire all people to live in peace. Grant wisdom and courage to heads of state and to legislators as they face the coronavirus. Lead our elected officials to champion the cause of the needy. 


Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great. 

Blessed are you, holy God, for you accompany suffering humanity with love. Abide wherever the coronavirus has struck. Visit all who mourn their dead; all who have contracted the virus; those who are quarantined or stranded away from home; those who have lost their employment; those who fear the present and the future. Support physicians, nurses, and home health aides; medical researchers; and the World Health Organization. 


Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great. 

Blessed are you, holy God, for you care for the needy. We beg you to feed the hungry, protect the refugee, embrace the distressed, house the homeless, nurse the sick, and comfort the dying. Especially we pray for those we name before you now. 


Hear us, holy God. Your mercy is great.

Receive, merciful God, our prayers, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the host of our meal of life, who died and rose that we might live with you, now and forever.

God doesn’t need me or you to be prepared.  God needs us to show up, remember, and love.


Pastor Melinda

My Go-To prayer

For an extreme extrovert who is also a strong verbal thinker and communicator, the “safer-at-home” order takes on a whole new dimension.  And by whole new dimension, what I’m really saying is … being cooped up for hours on end with the same 3 other people … is … rough.

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Photo by on

And it’s week three – with all indications – that we have more yet ahead.

As a whole, our collective, crisis-driven-high-adrenaline response is naturally slowing, and the reality of the long haul of this … is settling upon us all.

And with that in mind, I share with you my “go-to-prayer” for this time and every time –   because it’s not only the fear and unknown of the Coronavirus pandemic upheaval that drives us to prayer!  We are a praying people!

This particular prayer was shared with me by a dear disciple sister on the journey, Athena, many moons ago.  It is taken from Isaiah 43:1-4 & 49:15-16.  I share it now with you dear disciples and fellow sojourners.

(You simply insert your name where it reads my name.)

Thus says the Lord

… who created you, O Melinda

… who formed you, O Melinda

Do not fear,

for I have redeemed you.

I have called you by name, Melinda

you are mine.

When you shall pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and through the rivers,

they shall not overwhelm you.

When you walk through the fire

you shall not get burned,

and the flame

shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord you God,

the Holy One of Israel,

your Savior, Melinda.

You are precious in my sight

and honored and I love you, Melinda.

Can a woman forget her nursing child

or show no compassion

for the child of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet, I will not forget you.

See, I have inscribed, Melinda,

on the palm of my hands.


If you are seeking connection and community, please do join an online Zoom group led by Pastor Mark, or the Facebook live yoga session.  Also subscribe to our YouTube channel for beautiful music offered by our church musicians, and more to come in the days ahead.  You will not want to miss this!

You can learn more about these and other ways we are responding as an entire church by visiting:

Church Website:

Facebook page:  @LosAltosUMC

Facebook (Bend and Brew):  @BendandBrew

Instagram page:  @laumc_lbc

YouTube:  Los Altos UMC YouTube

Peace be upon you this day.

I am praying on my knees next to you … at my safe, social distance.  😉

Pastor Melinda






this one’s for YOU. and me, too.

I’m learning, Jesus.  I’m learning.

This “safer-at-home” practice is giving me time (an undeniable precious commodity, no doubt) to rediscover the gift of fresh air and exercise.  For real.

Because?  I am a woman who needs to see the daylight, the sky, the trees.

Because?  I am a woman who needs to experience vitality — regularly.

And, well, maybe those things just make me human?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that if I don’t get out of  the house every single day, and if I don’t do some form of physical exertion every single day,  I am just not a pretty site.  I’ll just end that there for everyone’s sake.

Prior to the coronavirus distancing efforts, I could fake it.  I admit it.  I could lie to myself about only needing to “exercise” a few times per week, or trick my body into believing that (for me?) a 20-minute walk around the block would do for the day.  I had been keeping up my yoga practices which kept me together, but now … it’s become utterly clear that I must-must- get outside and exert myself for an extended period of time.  Every single day.

What it comes down to?  I have to prioritize self-care.

And so do you, friends. 

So, now hear this:

  1. It’s not selfish.
  2. It does take effort.
  3. It takes YOU prioritizing YOU.

And yeah … dang-it … I know that I’ve heard it a billion times.  I know to do this.  But there are SO.MANY.OTHER.PEOPLE.THINGS.QUESTIONS to help, care for, answer, address.  But right now, more than ever … all of that … is not going away.

  1. We are in this “safer-at-home” for the long haul.  We need you — God needs you – to take care so that we together are truly strong.
  2. Find some form of some way to do some thing to get outside and get fresh air.  Exert some energy – a walk, a run, jumping rope, dancing – something to help you move (at a distance).  😉  What is it that you need to do for you to care for you?  (that’s a LOT of you’s …!!)
  3. Feel your heart beating, and know that this is good.  ❤

Yeah, this one’s for you.  And me, too.

man in black jacket wearing black headphones
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

We are better together, but only if we are doing the work to take care of us.

~ Melinda

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for This Day

While every day, sometimes every hour, there seems to appear a new cause for worry, a new disheartening statistic, there is also much for which we can offer thanks.  In so doing, we defy the power of worry and speak as a people of the risen Christ, a people of hope.

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Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw on

We thank You for all Your gifts, loving God;

source of every good thing.

We praise You for Your mercies,

new every morning, and renewed in the evening.

We thank You, God, for inspiring us through Your Spirit;

giving us ears to hear the words of the prophets,

and voices to carry the message of Your continuing presence with us.

We thank You for people around us,

caring, inspiring, and challenging;

may we rejoice in their example and follow You more closely.

For Your love;

Your persistent reminder that You will not let us go; 

Your people, flesh and bone, the body of Christ,

we praise You and give You thanks.

We remember and give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before us in the faith,

those who have spoken Your word

and lived Your love, that we may know You;

those we have known personally, our family and friends, no longer present on earth but in Your closer company,

those we have not known

whose lives and words inspire us even now.

On this day, in particular, we lift up the multitude of your people on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines working and working — to keep your world healthy and safe from harm.  Keep them healthy and safe, O God.

In gratitude we offer this and all our prayers, in, and through, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Used with permission from —