In this week’s Monday Minute, Muriel encourages us to find new and creative ways of meeting together despite our current circumstances.
Meeting Together Despite Our Altered Reality
by Muriel Gregory
These words have become the backdrop of our new reality.
Since the beginning of the year, the entire planet has been fighting an unseen enemy. Our weapons of choice have been isolation, face masks, and obsessive hand washing. We have learned how to make our hand sanitizer and googled how much toilet paper you need to last 2+ months. The traditional ways of caring for and loving our neighbors – hugs and sharing a meal or cup of coffee – have been replaced with video chats and six feet of separation.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) advocates forced social isolation. They explain that “the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.” Further recommendations state that “organizers should continue to assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for gatherings.”
Almost overnight schools, churches, workplaces, stores, restaurants, museums have emptied, and homes have become the center stage of all those activities. Images of deserted places in urban areas belong more in a sci-fi movie than on today’s news. A new normal has settled, and no one knows how long our altered reality will last.
But God’s Word encourages us to keep meeting together.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (emphasis mine)
One of the primary purposes of the book of Hebrews was to encourage Christians to endure. They were under intense persecution and feared for their lives. The perseverance exemplified by Jesus was to be practiced by all. Holding fast to the hope they had received, the writer encouraged them to continue gathering and stir one another up.
Our time of forced isolation has taught most of us one thing: we need each other. A study was done in 2004 on the psychological effects of quarantine. They found that “28.9% of participants had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 31.2% had symptoms of depression.” Science confirms what the Bible teaches – do not isolate yourself.
COVID 19 created forced confinement, but many other factors make us isolate ourselves:
- New duty station
- New baby
- Difficulty in finding a church
- All your besties are moving, etc.…
Melissa Hicks mentions this issue in Growing Together. She wrote, “many people, even back in the New Testament times, questioned the necessity of the church. There was already a trend towards “lone ranger Christianity.’” We see this, even more, today, and in the military, particularly.”
Being a lone ranger will not only stunt your spiritual growth but will more than likely have serious adverse health consequences. One thing I know and love about the military community is our resiliency and creativity.
Are you isolated? Here are some ideas for gathering together safely:
- Go for a walk with a friend
- Use video chat to meet with people near and far
- Play games online with friends and family
- Plan to attend the Planting Roots Virtual Fall Conference with friends
What else would you add to this list?
Sisters let us not forsake meeting together. Be intentional about it. We need each other more than ever.
Read: James 5:13-20
Reflect: What actions is James calling us to do? What benefits does he list?
Respond: Is there a friend or relative you can rejoice with, cry with? Do you need someone to walk with you and keep you accountable? Reach out today. Build your community. Keep meeting together.
Lord, you created me for community. In these uncertain times, it is easy to live like a hermit and isolate myself. Give me the strength to not forsake meeting together with other believers. Amen.
Hawryluck, Laura, et al. “SARS Control and Psychological Effects of Quarantine, Toronto, Canada.” Emerging Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3323345/