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Rev. Joshua Lazard On How COVID Helped The U.S. Appeal 'To Our Better Angels'

Father Christopher WIlliams walks down the aisle in the Basilica of San Albino on May 2, 2020 in Mesilla, New Mexico, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Ratje / AFP via Getty Images)
Father Christopher WIlliams walks down the aisle in the Basilica of San Albino on May 2, 2020 in Mesilla, New Mexico, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Paul Ratje / AFP via Getty Images)

Reverend Joshua Lazard joined On Point last year to share how faith communities across America were worshiping together during the coronavirus outbreak. Below, he speaks with Kimberly Atkins Stohr about what the past year of COVID has looked like for him.

REV. JOSHUA LAZARD: When I spoke with WBUR last time I was working at Duke University, I was since laid off. So it has been a year of moves, a year of readjustment, a year of attempting to continue to maintain some relationships with people from my previous employment. And still trying to make new social engagements with people here in the city of Boston.

KIMBERLY ATKINS STOHR: It was also a year that saw Reverend Lazard lose a beloved family member.

LAZARD: I had an aunt that died. We knew that she had had her bouts with cancer throughout the last few years. And she eventually moved to hospice care toward the end of last year, and she lived in Houston. This was an aunt I would have moved heaven and earth to try and attend the funeral, to be with family and whatnot. And I will never forget sitting down in my chair to watch the funeral live stream. And it was that moment in which the pandemic, you know, I’m not going to say came full circle. But, you know, yet one more layer of reality of what the pandemic has robbed from everyone became manifested.

LAZARD: That, to me was a very hard moment. It was just one of those real moments of sadness within the pandemic. I have elderly parents, and I was worried about them. I was legitimately worried about them because they were in, quote-unquote, this danger zone of being highly susceptible to COVID. And I definitely remember many nights praying in the early parts of COVID as we’re hearing these waves happening certainly here on the East Coast. In New York, but again, waves happening in Chicago.

LAZARD: And I just turned back to things that were familiar. I turned back to prayer. I turned back to conversations with my friends who are in faith communities to just talk these things through. And yes, as a result, I do believe that my faith got strengthened, got reaffirmed throughout this.

LAZARD: I have partnered with a local church here in Boston throughout the summer, and they are discussing those things about, What does this need to look like when when we get back together? And I’m pretty sure this is a case across the religious spectrum, for at least religious communities that meet with some level of regularity, week to week. Those five year plans that churches and synagogues might have had for the future, they’re going to need to go back to the drawing board, because priorities have changed. Expectations have changed.

LAZARD: It’s the reality that now houses of worship now truly have national audiences. It’s trying to figure out the difference between, Do we stay on Zoom once we return to in-person worship? Do we have a live stream that we once never did a year ago because we didn’t think it was important? How do we bring people who might be tuning in to us from Phoenix, Arizona, now, or Seattle, Washington? I would say that to keep the faith, as you see it, that we are definitely stronger together. I believe that as a whole, as a country, we have appealed to our better angels. And I think that us as a country, we will be better for it.

In this diary … we hear from:

Reverend Joshua Lazard, now at the Theology School at Boston University. He and his parents have been vaccinated, and are planning a trip in Chicago this month.

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