Finding hope in sadness
To my brothers and sisters at ECC,
First of all, I miss you all. I miss worshiping with you, singing with you, hugging you, visiting with you in the foyer, sharing meals with you under the picnic shelter. And I am going to have to continue to miss you for a while yet.
For I am a person who is in the CoVid19 high risk category. I am not afraid of the virus. I am simply following the strong recommendation of my health care providers and my own common sense that I must also protect my Mom, especially now that I can see her in person (with masks and social distance). So I am staying home for now and missing what I now know to be the best part of my week – being with you all and worshiping together.
I have to be honest. I am grieving. There are many of you in my situation, and my grief extends to you as well, hurting for your isolation as well. I did not know how hard it was going to be until the first time I watched the Worship service online and there were people in the sanctuary in addition to the worship team. I didn’t just choke up. I cried all through the first hymn. And the second. And a couple more times through the service.
But. The story does not end here. The Lord is comforting me. He is teaching me to trust Him, to focus on Him as the object of worship, not on the setting (my living room) or how many people are with me. I am so thankful for the technology that allows me to worship from home, and for those of you who are making that possible through your hard work and creativity. I am thankful even that we can sing in three-part harmony in our living room. There are still tears, but there is the beginning joy along with them.
For we were created for community. If we never understood that before, I think we do now. There really is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian! But many of us feel like we are alone, isolated from our brothers and sisters for longer than we could have imagined. How do we get through this and come out stronger on the other side of CoVid?
First of all, we must hold on to the fact that our hope is in the Lord, and that has not been changed by any of the new ways we have to live because of CoVid19. That is not a trite saying. It is probably more true to me now than it has ever have been. His Word nurtures me every morning, every time I open it to study or read it - in ways I have not experienced before.
Next, we can pray for our brothers and sisters. Prayer connects us in a significant way. The Friday evening prayer times with women of ECC are sweet and encouraging times as we cry out to God together. (If you want more information about these, see the bulletin or contact me.) But even if you cannot join us on Zoom for these prayer times, praying for one another knits us together as the family of God, caring for one another in this significant way.
We can also find ways to be reaching out to those we know are alone, feeling isolated, and unable to attend worship for now. Knock on someone’s door and stand on the porch and visit while social distancing. Call someone, even if you have never called them before! Pray with them over the phone, or just make sure they are doing ok. They will love hearing from you, and you will be blessed (I promise, I’ve done it!). Drop a note in the mail. Send an email. But whatever you do, let’s love one another creatively.
Finally, if we are truly going to be the Body of Christ even while we must maintain our distance physically, we need to let Scripture guide our thoughts and behavior. I am learning the importance – no, the centrality- of my need to live out Romans 12:3,9-10:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
God has showered us with His grace. For me, it seems that the only appropriate response is to let my love for my brothers and sisters be genuine, showing you all the honor of respecting your opinions and practices, and doing what I can to encourage, support or comfort you. This also means accepting my own limitations right now, not letting my inability to worship in person in the sanctuary blind me to the joys of worship. This is my battle – and I am guessing the battle for many of us at home. But I am determined to keep seeking to find hope daily – sometimes hourly – in the Lord. I am praying for you too, my brothers and sisters, to find your joy in the Lord of Creation, and to hope in Him every single day.