My heart continues to return to the above passage from Acts at the time of Pentecost, the birth of the Christian church. You can see that there are several elements described above that characterize who we are as God's people in the world:
2. Give of ourselves in order to give to others
3. Spend time in the temple
4. Break bread
5. Glad and generous hearts
6. Praise God
7. Receive new people daily
We're able to praise God walking through the woods or sitting in our living rooms. We're even able to give generously, be glad, share virtual communion and have visitors to our virtual services.
But it is a challenge to be together since we currently cannot spend time in our "temple."
We can be formed spiritually through prayer and study of scripture. We can worship together while apart. We can generously provide to those in need.
But what about community. We yearn for togetherness -- the very thing that spreads this horrible disease of COVID-19. I'm sure it breaks your heart as it breaks mine that we are being told that singing and hugging and sharing meals and being together in groups are potentially deadly. We are compelled by our faith to care for our neighbor by wearing masks and socially distancing. We are compelled by common sense to stay home for the time being.
But what about community. How does one form beloved community in this time of coronavirus? We at Wesley have tried to encourage groups, teams, committees, nests and individuals to keep connected by phone, postal mail, email, Zoom, text and Facebook. Personally, I've been building relationships with my neighbors. The person who used to be "that lady who walks by twice a day with her ski poles" now has a name, a familiar face and a remarkable connection as the mother of my high school class salutatorian. I've made friends with "the guy with the Jack Russell terrier." I talk to the neighbors on either side every day now rather than every once in a while. It's pretty cool. I don't think it would have happened without the pandemic, at least not this soon after moving here.
So it is possible to build community. It is possible to maintain community. This time is very stressful, wondering what comes next. So take good care of yourself. Sleep well. Eat well. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Take care of your soul. Remember that Jesus calms our anxious, fearful hearts.
And most of all, reach out when you're feeling lonely. Chances are, the person you choose to call, needs someone to talk to too.
Rev. Cheryl L. Meachen, Pastor
Wesley United Methodist Church
us for worship at Wesley UMC - Concord NH
Sundays at 10:30 on YouTube at this link.