Staying Socially Connected while Practicing Social Distance.
It’s strange times, isn’t it? The spread of Covid-19 has brought about global disruption that now seems to be touching all of our lives. My family was planning to leave this Wednesday for a trip to FL to see my parents, but we cancelled yesterday. I’m sure many of you are experiencing similar disruptions.
It’s been great to hear words of gratitude and encouragement from those of you who participated in Park’s first video worship experience. Since we will not be gathering again this Sunday, something similar is already in the works for this Sunday and beyond, as well as more resources for helping those with kids navigate this unique season. All of this of course leads to a question you may be wondering:
How long until we are back worshipping at 31 Park Road?
The honest answer is we don’t know. One of the many lessons last week taught us is that it’s difficult to make plans beyond a week or two when we don’t even know what the next day will bring. As we all continue to navigate this odd time together, I promise that we will keep you updated.
I’m convinced that the biggest challenge for the church in the coming months will be to discern how to faithfully adapt to what is quickly becoming the new normal. We are living in the midst of a time when all the experts recommend social distancing as a critical way of slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. This widespread social practice, though necessary, will undoubtedly lead toward all sorts of challenges – not least of all, loneliness. The Biblical story makes clear what we all know intuitively: human beings were not created for isolation. We are hard-wired for relationships, including all the handshakes, hugs, and kisses that go with them. The question looms:
How can we practice social distancing yet remain socially connected?
Here are a few ideas:
If you find yourself wondering how someone is doing (a friend, a neighbor, a family member, a Community Group member, etc.), don’t just wonder, ask them. Write an email, shoot a text, send a FB message, make a phone call. My Community Group, for example, and others will be connecting this week via video chat. Obviously, we all know (or should know) that in-person, face-to-face communication will always be better than merely spoken or written communication. However, during a time when the well-being of our society seems in part to depend upon decreased face-to-face interaction, let’s stay connected to one another by utilizing the many communication tools modern technology affords us.
One of the challenges during a time like this is navigating the ambiguity of where to draw lines of social interaction. Some will err on the side of extreme caution; some will be more lax; and some will fall somewhere in between. You may be uncomfortable with all social interaction. Or you may have no problem hanging out with a few friends. Let’s give one another the grace and space to navigate these odd times according to our individual comfort levels. As we strive to stay connected to one another, let’s do so with a spirit of grace and understanding.
Look for ways to help others. Help them. Share ideas.
I recently heard an idea from someone in Park about calling a local elderly apartment community and asking if any residents need someone to make grocery runs. This is a great idea that every Community Group could explore. Following Jesus during a time like this will lead us to tangibly help those in need. Don’t wait for permission to help others. If a need surfaces and you are able to help, do it – whether that’s with your CG, with others, or on your own. Also, please share ideas about ways to help during this time – share with your CG, our staff, our elders. We want to hear. In the coming weeks, we hope to identify and organize specific ways to serve in the community – so stay tuned.
Be present at home.
Whether it’s due to school closure, working from home, or social distancing, many of us will find ourselves spending much more time with those we live with or near. This will come with its challenges, not least of all for parents who are now responsible for monitoring several hours of their children’s schoolwork from home. But more time at home will also provide opportunities to be intentional about those whose closeness we often take for granted. Just this morning a young mom shared with me a recent opportunity she had with one of her kids which involved reading a whole book of the Bible together, then discussing. Why? Because they had more time together. I’ve had more conversations with my neighbor these last few days than the last month total (apparently social distancing and yardwork are very compatible). How might this unique time enable you to connect more deeply with those you are already close to?
Connect with God.
For many, the coming months will force us to slow down. And for most of us, having to slow down is probably a gift. What are ways you can incorporate prayer, Scripture, and rest into what may become a slower pace of life? Granted, for some, life will only get fuller and more complicated. In which case, being intentional about time with God will become even more important. But if you do find yourself with more time in the coming months, try something new. Read through a whole book of the Bible in one sitting. Start a prayer journal. Begin writing down the names of people you’d like to start praying for, and then pray for them every day. There is no better connection to maintain during this time of social distancing than your connection with God.
As always, I’m available. Have a question or need? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace and Peace,