Well, it’s been over two months of sheltering in place, social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings. So how are you dealing with it? I’ve heard a variety of reactions to this whole situation. There’s anger, frustration, loneliness, fear, acceptance; there are beautiful examples of how people have used their creativity to bring something new to a bad situation. There are moving stories of people helping other people, like the wonderful volunteers at our own Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. So life goes on, however changed and changing it may be.
One thing I’ve heard from time to time is how lonely, or alone, people feel. One psychologist has said that loneliness is a feeling of being alone against your will. She said that you can be alone and not be lonely, or you can be lonely even if you are surrounded by people. But human beings need social interaction, physically and spiritually. We crave being connected to others. So the new normal, thanks to Covid-19, presents us with the tricky situation where we need to try to remain socially and spiritually connected, while being physically distant.
But how do you do that? Well, first of all let’s take a look at what our faith tells us. First, it says that you are NOT alone. God is with you. You can depend on that. As the benediction from our last service said, “God goes before you to guide you, beside you to be your best friend, behind you to protect you, beneath you to support you, and above you to give you vision and courage and hope.” That’s a given! And secondly, our faith says that we are part of a community, a loving and faithful community of God’s people. In this community, the church, we are called to help and support one another, to be the “support community” for each other. The question is, what does that mean in the face of this pandemic? How can we live that out, in real time, as we follow all the guidelines? That’s what we need to be figuring out, and some of you have. But it’s not easy! And yet it’s necessary; it’s a part of our calling, as Christians, in this moment in history.
Let me close with an image that has helped clarify my own thinking about the Christian life. The image is the cross. We have a vertical relationship with God, and we have a horizontal relationship with one another and with our world. Together, they form the cross, and, for a full and meaningful Christian life, you can’t have one without the other. We need both relationships for our wholeness. May we discover how to make that happen in these difficult and challenging times.
Rev. Sherm Skinner