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  • Writer's pictureRev. Dr. Jalene Chase

Lean on Me

This legendry song by Bill Withers was released in April 1972. It has been recorded by several artist, but his rendering is still my favorite. You can hear the compassion in his voice. Bill Withers died on March 30 of this year during the pandemic’s upswing. His word of friendship, service, and community is needed during this uncertain time. The lyrics speak to our current situation as we see people risk their lives, offer support, give openly, and lend a hand were needed. Here are most of the lyrics:

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. ~ Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long, ‘til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.

Please swallow your pride, if I have things you need to borrow. For no one can fill those of your needs, that you won’t let show. ~ You can call on me brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you’ll understand. We all need somebody to lean on…

If there is a load you have to bear, that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load, if you just call me…

The song ends with him repeatedly offering help by imploring the hearer to “call me.” Before this pandemic, we appeared to be a society that looked out for self. Some of the behavior during this time shows remnants of that attitude, but for the most part, we see people helping people. Healthcare workers, public service personnel, food industry, schools, office workers, neighbors…. I know there are other essential people that I didn’t list, but my point is we are leaning on each other, and that makes all of us essential. This is not the time to be prideful or hoarders. We can’t open our doors, but we can open our hearts. We can’t physically lend a hand, but we can donate so that people can get help. We can’t reach out and touch, but we can connect through social media. In my faith tradition, we call this community.

In the spirit of the song and the memory of the man I implore, beseech, plead, pray, urge, appeal to each of us to get the help we need and offer the help we can. It will take all of us to deal with the post traumatic syndrome that COVID-19 created indiscriminately. When we are on the other side of this, I pray that our humanitarian efforts continue, discrimination stops, and we earnestly address the disparities in our society. I believe that starts with leaning on each other.

We, at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Beltsville, will be part of the “new normal” that will be more normal than being sequestered in our homes. For now, join us. You can learn about us on our webpage or join our virtual worship. The information can be found our Facebook page When we return to our building, our blended service begins at 9:45 am with a nursery and a sign language interpreter available during worship. Until next time:

Love Encourage Assist Nurture

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