Distant, but not Separate

In my years in ministry, I’ve walked into a lot of hospital rooms.  And in doing all these visits, I’ve noticed something:  I almost never visit the patient alone.  With a few exceptions, they are never by themselves in the room. For that matter, it’s almost never the patient and a spouse, or significant other.  There are almost always other people in the room.

Sometimes it’s just a few, sometimes it’s a crowd.  But whenever there is a crisis, people gather to be close, and to support each other.  I think it’s just how we’re wired.

Our current crisis breaks this conventional wisdom.  Because of the critical need for us to keep distant, we are unable to gather and to be together.  And this inability to be together when we need to compounds the severity and the weirdness of the crisis.  In addition to everything else, one of our primary coping mechanisms has been taken away and as a whole community we feel out of sorts.

It is more imperative than ever that in the midst of this crisis we find ways (safe ways!) to connect with each other.

  • Is there someone in your neighborhood who could be vulnerable that you could call and check on? See if they have a need that you can fill?
  • There are free ways of video connecting with people. With tools like Zoom, Skype or Facetime, you can reach out to friends or family who are distant.  Sure, you could just call them, but there is something important during times like this about seeing someone’s facial expressions and looking them in the (on screen) eye.  The connection deepens.
  • Make sure you order a meal for take-out once in a while. Yes, you could cook at home, but the act of going out of the house and greeting the person behind the counter and picking up something is emotionally healthy.  And our local businesses can really use the support right now.
  • Gather your family and play a board game or watch a comedy. Laughter is healing.
  • Our local faith communities are active in serving those in need right now. Even in times of separation, we need to care for each other.  Check in and see if there is a way to volunteer.

In Romans 8:38-39, Paul writes that “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We can never be separated from God.  This is God’s promise to us.  And our role as people who follow God is to live as God’s people, which means that we should not separate ourselves from each other as well.  For the health of all (especially the vulnerable) it is good and right to be distant right now.  But that doesn’t mean we have to be separate.

Live as God’s people, united in mission, united in relationship, united in community.  Live as God’s people and find new ways reach out to connect with each other.

This is the gift of God that we can share, and this gift brings life.  God bless and stay safe!

This devotion was first published in the “Pastor’s Perspective” column of the Owatonna People’s Press, March 28, 2020

One Reply to “Distant, but not Separate”

  1. As I read your message, it occurred to me (duh) that we are never alone. This feeling of serenity is a gift from God. To be content is a gift, to know we are loved is a gift, and the people in our lives are gifts. So many things and people to be grateful for. Peace to you Todd.

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