An Open Letter to Pastors from Noah

By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director

A simple reflection from somebody who knows a thing or two about quarantine.

Dear pastor,

I keep thinking of you. The afternoon doldrums take over my thoughts, and there you are. The reaches of the night find me restless, so I pray for you. I pray for your family. I pray for new mercies and for shalom.

I don’t know the challenges for a church in the midst of a 21st century global pandemic. It’s impossible for me to understand what you’ve experienced in pastoral leadership. I try to imagine the strain of scrambling to go digital, the dissatisfaction of caring for hurting families over the phone, the uncertainties of a budget shortfall, or the discernment needed to make decisions that are bound to upset some people.

But I’ll never know what any of this has been like for you.

Lately, I can’t escape the memory of my own season of quarantine. Those were terrible days, and I can’t say thanks enough for never having to see them again. I was changed by those days, and so was my family. When days turned to weeks and then months, we wondered if things would ever be the same. They weren’t – and neither were we.

But in many ways, we were changed for the better. For instance, we discovered just how quickly the world as we know it can come crashing down. Yes, there’s always craziness, and so many are bent on destruction. But for the most part, the day-to-day of life holds together…until it doesn’t.

This reorientation toward uncertainty became our teacher for the cadence of trusting obedience to God. A thousand voices screamed at once, but we learned to heed the only Voice worth hearing. How else can building an ark and loading pairs of animals onto it be explained? God said to do it, so we did.

But this was more than just keeping up our end of the bargain. It became the food with which our fellowship with God was nourished. From it, we experienced the blessing of God’s abiding presence. As we kept the Way of our God, we became convinced that the God of the Way was with us.

This daily, intimate relationship with our Creator and Redeemer surprised us. We had thought our future depended on the ark or the weather forecast. Instead, we became convinced that our God was bent on abundant living for us.

Your own months of quarantine will quickly become a memory. But I’m praying you and your family are changed for the better, too. Specifically, I’m asking that your walk with God keeps growing in steadiness and warmth. And as your “new normal” hits full stride, that your first impulse each and every day will be full-hearted, freely given worship of your Creator and Redeemer.

That’s what my family learned during quarantine.



Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation.