Loving God and Loving Others in the Age of COVID-19
Loving God and Loving Others has been the slogan of this church for a long time. We didn’t make it up. When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment, he didn’t hesitate to respond: “Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all young mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” Matthew 22:37-40.
The best way I’ve seen us practice these all-important commandments in the life of our church is how welcoming we are on a Sunday morning. We even carve out designated time during our worship service to not only say hi to people but also to shake hands, hug and have a conversation or two. It’s really nice to see the people of God genuinely connecting each week, and we carry that into our workweek as well. We are a loving church, and it’s one of our best qualities. I think that’s why the current restrictions we’re living under are so hard for us. We’re told to social distance from each other, to eliminate physical contact altogether, avoid gathering in large numbers and stay at home. It is heartbreaking and leaves us asking the question – “How are we supposed to love God and love others now?” The answer, outrageously, is to do exactly what we’ve been doing these past few weeks. For now, the best way we can love others is to stay away from them! For me, that is as frustrating as it is true. As badly as I want us to return to the ways things used to be – to gather as God’s people and love on each other as we always have - is not an act of love right now. It is a risk that not only may put others in danger; it would also defy the orders of our elected leaders and lengthen the time in which we are vulnerable to serious illness. Here’s the important thing about all this: we are NOT, even for the briefest of moments, called to stop loving others. But we are called to change the ways in which we demonstrate God’s love. For this season let us show our love by, first, doing all we can to defeat this virus together, and, second, by creatively reaching out while still following the rules of social distancing. Phone calls, written letters, text messages and email are more important than ever. Daily prayer for each other, for the health of our nurses, doctors and first responders and for the stability and strength of our community are essential. In other words, church family, don’t stop being the church! The world needs the church to be the church now more than ever! May the Lord equip us for this season. ‘til the storm passes by, Pastor Billy