March 7: Connection vs. Distance

Yes, I know.  Two local cases of COVID-19 contagion in our own valley.  Yes, we are.  I am convening my Council of Advice, our circle of trusted lay leaders, to examine every stratagem to respond in a safe and protecting way going forward.  No option is off the table at this point.  Yes you are.  Being invited to protect yourself by a polite sounding term called “social distancing.”  When employed for reasons of depression, anxiety, and fear this is considered bad.  When employed for reasons of not being infected with a new virus, this is considered good.  And all the while, in this Lenten season we are invited to the exact obversal opposite of social distancing.

We Christians worship a “triune” God, the “Three in One,” the “Godhead,” Father/Son/Holy Spirit….it boggles my mind to comprehend how our forebears even began to articulate this lived experience of God in three persons to anyone without sounding absolutely crazed!  We can see, in scripture and in creeds and in song, the church struggling to convey the profundity of God’s triune intersection with humanity, all based upon God’s relationally connected nature.  Not three isolated deities, in cosmic competition with each other like some Greek or Indian pantheistic throw-down.  No.  The Trinity models perfect equity and equality, perfected divine love generously and abundantly overflowing from the Almighty Father, channeled through the Son, deployed and enacted by the Holy Spirit.  No competition, just cooperation.  No drama except the salvific drama of God’s love poured out for us.  No distance, just union and communion, intimacy and mutuality.

We may for a season have to re-think how we gather as a church family.  We may, as disgusting as it sounds, have to enact social distance to preserve social cohesion.  But make no mistake.  We Christians are built for union, communion, intimacy and mutuality.  We are engineered to be part of a larger whole, as the Apostle puts it, individually and inextricably members of the larger Body of Christ.  We are built for intimacy, as Adam’s anguished search in that original Garden for a partner like himself reveals so plaintively.  Intimate union with our heavenly Father, with Jesus, with our own selves (our souls and bodies, as the Prayer Book original eucharistic prayer states), and with our neighbor as Jesus spoke about every time he taught.  We may have to be physically distant but we are never alone.  Just these past few days I have been privileged to companion a beloved local member in Denver undergoing surgical heart repair, and now in Texas, to say goodbye to a beloved seasonal member unexpectedly in home hospice.  This is the last time we will see each other before we meet beyond that distant shore, in far brighter light.  We are bound together by the Body and Blood of Jesus in true communion which no contagion can ever sever or disrupt.  Thanks be to God!

  1. How are we intimate with God in this season of our lives?!  Not in any facile, surface fashion but in a vulnerable, available way to God’s divine presence touching our deepest self?
  2. How are we intimate with Jesus in this Lenten season?  Have we purposely invited our Lord to become head of our lives and savior of our hearts during this very convulsive time in our world?
  3. How are we intimate with ourselves, gentle and patient, embracing the reality of our lived experience and allowing our souls and bodies to receive forgiveness, grace and love?
  4. To whom are we being called as spiritual intimates in this season, partners on the journey following Christ?  Who has Jesus placed in our path to know, support, listen to and love?

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