A Response to COVID-19 | “Exposed” by Sarah Bourns (’20 ATS)

T.S. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month.” In fact, it has been more than a month now that we have been bombarded with news of death’s cruel blows worldwide resulting from the novel COVID-19 virus.

In the midst of an invisible enemy’s assault on life as we previously knew it, the words of Sarah Bourns break through our current stupor to look inward and to hold a mirror to our hearts.  Sarah, an Alliance Theological Seminary Master of Divinity student, makes a poignant assessment of our world’s condition in her powerful poem.

by Sarah Bourns
We’ve all been exposed.
Not necessarily to the virus
(though maybe…who knows)
We’ve all been exposed BY the virus.

Corona is exposing us.
Exposing our weak sides.
Exposing our dark sides.
Exposing what normally lies far beneath the surface of our souls,
hidden by the invisible masks we wear.
Now exposed by the paper masks we can’t hide far enough behind.

Corona is exposing our addiction to comfort.
Our obsession with control.
Our compulsion to hoard.
Our protection of self.

Corona is peeling back our layers.
Tearing down our walls.
Revealing our illusions.
Leveling our best-laid plans.

Corona is exposing the gods we worship:
Our health
Our hurry
Our sense of security.
Our favorite lies
Our secret lusts
Our misplaced trust.

Corona is calling everything into question:
What is the church without a building?
What is my worth without an income?
How do we plan without certainty?
How do we love despite risk?

Corona is exposing me.
My mindless numbing
My endless scrolling
My careless words
My fragile nerves.

We’ve all been exposed.
Our junk laid bare.
Our fears made known.
The band-aid torn.
The masquerade done.

So what now? What’s left?
Clean hands
Clear eyes
Tender hearts.

What Corona reveals, God can heal.

Come Lord Jesus.
Have mercy on us.

Before joining the pastoral staff at Hope Midtown, Sarah’s previous 15 years of full-time ministry included urban youth work, poverty and justice services, university discipleship, non-profit leadership, and missionary care.

Originally from Southern California, Sarah has lived in West Philadelphia, Redding, CA, Colorado Springs, and now New York City. “I disciple and develop leaders and provide pathways for our congregation to encounter God in his Word and his world,” she says of her role at the church plant, Hope Midtown in Manhattan.

How did she discover ATS? “LOTS of friends who went there. I worked at The Christian & Missionary Alliance headquarters in Colorado for several years and everyone I knew who had gone to ATS had something special about them. And I decided I wanted whatever they had! Turned out that ATS was the common denominator in their Spirit-led, confident, humble lives,” she shares.

Of how ATS has influenced her, Sarah confesses, “I like to say that seminary has made me less religious, thank God! I came to ATS after 13 years of full-time ministry needing healing, re-tooling and personal transformation to continue in the work God has called me to. And I have gotten that and SO MUCH MORE. Learning in such a diverse environment has impacted me greatly and I’ve learned as much from my peers as from my professors. So very grateful for this rich community.”