Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.
Greetings everyone. Words like these above begin most of the letters from the Apostle Paul in our New Testament. We often skim right by them and move on to what many of us have felt were the more substantive parts of the text. Yet today, we find ourselves in a new situation. The social distancing now required of us all raises a new awareness. Paul was socially distanced from those he deeply cared for. Especially from his prison epistles (Philippians, Philemon, Galatians and Colossians), we can now hear these words in a new light. He conveys blessing, hope, faith and presence, yes. But we now can hear a real sense of poignant desire. Like us, he longs to be with his friends. He misses being with them.
Grace to you, and peace …
Studies confirm the healing reality of beingwith other people in a meaningful way. We need to be with each other through the gift of human presence. We often need to be reminded of the power of grace and peace through each other. Even more, though, those studies also demonstrate the power of human touch.Repeatedly in my ministry, especially in hospital settings or with anyone who has been confined to a bed or a home, the power of feeling another human being is vital: holding hands in prayer, a touch on the shoulder, a gentle pat on the back. We convey a sense of blessing, we offer a shared healing in the sacredness of human touch. We offer grace and peace.
So keeping our distance from one another for now is the right and healthy thing from a physical standpoint. But from an emotional and spiritual perspective, we are being adversely effected.
This is another way of saying: I miss you!
We need each other. Like you, I need to be reminded that I, that we, are cared for and loved. We need to feel a sense of grace and peace. Let’s keep doing our best to stay in touch; emails, phone calls, Facebook and social media; devotions and videos on our website … These are methods we are trying hard to utilize in redemptive ways for now. We are and will be offering a variety of options from our ministers as well as a number of our members that we are hoping will help keep all of connected.
Yet, we need to be together. For now, let us hear anew those ancient poignant, longing words of Paul spoken and conveyed from a social distance:
Grace to you, and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Know you are loved, and terribly missed. Stay in touch!