Thursday, June 25, 2020

In This Together ... even while apart

One word keeps coming up lately.
I hear it when I make pastoral phone calls 
(because I can't go visit in person right now).
I hear it when I'm in Video conference meetings
(because we can't meet in person right now).
I have witnessed it and its devastating power.
The word -- Isolation.
One of Evil's weapons -- Isolation.
An effect of the coronavirus that will have long lasting impact -- Isolation.

sometimes we call it, "Independence,"
but that's a lie.
For we are most able to be fully human when we acknowledge
our dependence on you
and our interdependence on one another.

I've seen it in the spiral of depression.
Isolating from others.
Drawing back from those who really care.
Pulling away from support systems.
Alone. Lonely. Isolated.

In response to COVID-19, 
separation does help slow the spread of the virus.
But I think the term used: "social-distancing" has resulted in issolation,
when what is meant is "physical-distancing."
Keep the 6+ foot distance, and ALSO keep the caring relationships strong.

Lord Jesus,
that's why Emmanuel is so powerful.
Emmanuel means, "God is WITH us."
Your Incarnation is a felt physical reminder,
"God is WITH us."
The Psalmist knows the truth:
"Even though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil,
THOU ART WITH ME" (from Psalm 23)

During the pandemic,
we are NOT alone;
we are NOT isolated.
You are WITH us.

Indeed, even in the most painful time of your life,
the path that leads to the cross,
you traveled surrounded by others --
disciples, family, friends, betrayers, deniers, crucifiers.

while crying out, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
you were not isolated...
Your mother looked on in grief.
Your disciples watch in horror.
The thieves crucified with you were there
-- repentant and unrepentant they were there.

No, Lord, we are in this together.
We are walking this hard path together.
We are facing the uphill battle together.
We are separate together.
With prayers, cards, calls, 
driveway visits, backporch meals, online worship,
video conference meetings, 
we are in this together
And You are in our midst!
Embracing us, holding us, loving us, 
keeping us connected to your heart of love and to our love for one another.

"Be strong and bold; 
have no fear or dread of them, 
because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; 
he will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Thanks be to God!

This prayer is an adaptation/update of a prayer I wrote March 6, 2018 entitled "In this Together" as part of the Journey to Jerusalem series. Thanks to my mom for reminding me and encouraging me to share it again!

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