Clergy View: We belong to each other

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’” – Romans 15:1-2, The Message

We are living in a surreal time right now. As I write this article on Tuesday, March 17, news of the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold. I can only imagine how things may develop by the time you read this on Friday.

Each day we learn about new cases, new deaths, new protocols. We know people are responding to this outbreak in a variety of ways. Some are completely panicked — convinced the end times are approaching. Others are sure the whole thing is being blown out of proportion and see the closure of churches and schools as an overreaction. I think most of us are somewhere in the middle. We are unsure about how the virus will spread, how it might impact our loved ones, fearful we might lose our jobs, worried about what might come next.

The truth is we don’t really know how all of this will unfold, and uncertainty is scary. We can trust that God is with us and leading us, and yet even those with the strongest faith may be feeling a bit uneasy. But I firmly believe we were made for times such as this. People of God, in fact all people, are created for community and connection. That’s part of what makes the practice of social distancing so difficult for many of us, but it’s also what gives me hope.

The potential for loneliness and depression during this time is huge. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus’ followers are called upon to love our neighbors as ourselves, to care for the weak, the sick, and the outcast. As I preached in an online sermon on Sunday, during this time when we are not going to church, we have an opportunity to be more intentional about being the church. In this moment we are called to make an intentional effort to connect with and care for each other. Making phone calls, texting, emailing, sending cards, running errands for others if you are in a low-risk population. Being patient and kind when shopping for groceries. We must do these things not just for our closest friends and family, but intentionally seek out people who may not have close friends or family nearby. Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. We are still called to be here for one another, to love one another and to care for one another. We belong to each other. So, love God, love each other, and wash your hands!

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