Dear South East District Friends,
My goodness! So much has changed since I last wrote to you. Earlier this year we were gearing up for a District Training Event followed by a District Youth Event and a host of other activities in your churches this spring. Normally at this time of year you would be making preparations for an Easter Egg Hunt and other festivities, along with meaningful worship for Holy Week and Easter. Things change very quickly and we pause to offer a prayer of humility and gratitude for the very simple pleasure of waking up on a new day, reading an e-mail like this one, and joining with sisters and brothers to tackle the challenges that are coming our way.
As churches, we thrive on community. We rejoice in singing together, laughing together, praying together. We hug, touch, smile, cry, rejoice, and grieve together. Typically, the closer we can be to one another the more we feel like “church.”
The irony of this time of social distancing is that, as Christians, we are being asked to love God, our neighbor, and ourselves by physically separating ourselves from others. This does not feel very loving to most church people. In fact, many of us are having a hard time doing this. We might be asking, “What does social distancing really mean?” “It doesn’t apply to my family, does it? Or to my church? Or to my best friend?” What we are learning is that it applies to just about everyone in your life who is coming into contact with other people on a regular basis. The best way to love them and to love yourself is to isolate yourself from others and be very, very thoughtful about how you are living, breathing, touching and communicating. It is exhausting, and completely new territory, but it is real and it will do exactly what Jesus asks us to do – give life.
Here in the final days of Lent, we remember the very confusing story of the one who gave his life to save ours. We remember that even those closest to Jesus did not understand the story or its purpose at first. Jesus had been quite clear with his disciples about what was to come and what they were to do. But it took them a while. And during the time they questioned, denied, left and doubted, Jesus was crucified and died on a cross.
Jesus died so we might live. Yes, indeed, beyond this earthly life but also in this earthly life as we seek to heed God’s call to be life-givers to others. Giving life today means keeping our distance, being thoughtful about our every action, listening to others, being patient, and holding fast that God is with us. May you be strengthened in every way, knowing that the church exists in greater ways than the walls that hold us physically together. We are experiencing the true church today, as we reach out in love, care, creativity, and concern to one another and to the world.
In Christ’s never-ending love,
Cynthia D. Weems