a resource for this time of COVID-19 social distancing
By the Rev. Bruce W. Gray
The theme for the last week of the Lenten Challenge is Share. When Holy Family’s leadership designed the Lenten Challenge many months ago, the thought was that this part of the challenge would be focused on trying tithing (donating ten percent of one’s income) for the weeks of Lent. That is still a worthy goal for a household, and certainly Holy Family could put the funds to good use. Tithing is an important spiritual expression of our love for God and humanity.
But with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and of the international economic situation, the spiritual dimensions of sharing have become much more important to how we choose to live each day. Government guidance is not just about staying home to stay safe, but also to only buy what we need so there is enough for everyone that day. Sharing in this time is about being generous with giving up our personal desires to get together with people beyond our households so that more people can be saved from the virus. It is about supporting local businesses when we do go out so that all who depend upon those businesses for their livelihoods can be kept whole. It is about sharing greetings (at a safe distance) with people we come across on our neighborhood walks and parking lots when running essential errands.
There is also a deeper step we can take. We can be generous with our prayers for both people we know and for strangers. Social media is full of prayer requests (or maybe just my clergy algorithms fill my feeds with them). I am tempted to skip them if it is someone I don’t know, or if I am in cranky state, evaluate them for credibility. Instead, I should just pray for each person and situation, however briefly. I invite you to do the same.
As I work from home, I try to have a good view out the window to be able to feel the life that is flowing outside in nature. But I am also now trying to intentionally pause and pray for each person I see walking by. With a few exceptions, I have no idea what specific needs and concerns they may have, so the vast majority of the time it is simply a prayer for God’s love to be with them. It costs me just a few moments, but it makes that time holy, and the space around my desk and the space outside become deeply sacred spaces. So the world is changed for the better. I invite you to do the same.
Finally, we should take seriously the opportunity to share Holy Family widely. Right now is a great time to invite people to church, since participating in an online service is about the least threatening test drive of a church and of God there is. Increasingly, there are very bad interpretations of these times being put forth in the name of God, so now is yet another crucial time for us to share with those around us, through our Facebook feeds, FaceTime calls, and any other means, the good news that God truly loves and cares for each one of us, and quite literally, does not wish any of us ill. This past Sunday’s online worship had well over one hundred participants, through the YouTube recording and the Facebook Watch Party. I hope everyone who did so had a sense of God’s love and care. I am going to try even harder to share on my social media and other connections the invitations Holy Family sends out for those opportunities. I invite you to do the same.
As we walk the last days of Lent, I pray that we all may find times to slow down enough to share, to share what God has given us-God’s love and peace and so much more.