in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Excerpt from Dr. Lynn Ungar’s poem Pandemic, the full text is found here http://www.lynnungar.com/poems/pandemic/
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together. All things connect.
Adapted from the words attributed to Chief Seattle, 1854
God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”
Genesis 2:18 (The Message)
There’s something absolutely beautiful about the way that God has created this interconnection to our lives. We were made for community and for connection. God saw from the very beginning that we needed this deep and interdependent relationship with one another. Sometimes we forget how connected we are spiritually and physically to people who live on the other side of our globe. These past few months have been a reminder of that truth! The lives of the people of China and Italy and Iran and America are woven together in such a way that what one person does in one place affects us all. To deny that truth is to deny the very nature of how God created us! Ungar, Chief Seattle, and the writer of the Genesis 2 creation story knew this deep, spiritual truth!
I entered ministry, first because God called, and second, because community and connection were so vital to me.
I wanted to be a part of creating community and connection across the generations in a way that helped people know God more fully and live their lives more alive in the Spirit of God.
But here we are, socially distancing from one another. Except for a handful of you, I haven’t seen your lovely faces in a while. I haven’t hugged a person other than my husband in a long time (too long for me!)
I wonder about the people who have felt that kind of isolation long before the outbreak of the pandemic. I wonder about people who have felt distance from the community of the church because they can’t come to worship at the time we offer it, or they don’t feel they have the right clothes, or they are worried about their acceptance, or they can’t get themselves to show up because of mental health issues. I wonder about people who have been isolated from the very community we are trying to create here.
If there is a blessing, it is that we are learning to do connection and intimacy, community and church through a wider variety of media. I have had a meeting via Zoom (it was delightful!) and worship virtually with many of you. I have held spent more time that I would have thought on the phone offering care from a distance that was safe for both myself and the person for whom I was caring. Later today I will connect with my best friends virtually for support, and next week we will have our normal lunch while looking at one another on a screen.
Can we do church this way? Turns out we can! We didn’t learn that as fully as we did until we had to. That’s the nature of human learning, I think. But it turns out we can do church in new and innovate ways that may in the end connect more people than ever to the life-giving love of Jesus. That is a good and beautiful thing! So let’s learn whatever we can in this season of doing church differently in the hopes that God is reshaping us to be more relevant than ever in our times. So be it!
Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink