“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 New International Version (NIV)
Yesterday we thought a little about special days like anniversaries and birthdays and how these can heighten a feeling of being separate and isolated for those living alone at this time. Going through lockdown without your usual physical contact and interaction with others brings it’s own challenges but so does going through lockdown with people you live with. We’re not used to being with each other 24/7.
Speaking to a number of people yesterday on the phone or by email, a common theme of strained relationships came through. Older children who usually work away from home or stay with friends or partners who have had to decide where to reside during the lockdown and have come back to stay at the family home. Other children home from University, their time there incomplete, returning to live with parents who cramp their style and who themselves struggle to parent independent young adults in their house. There are also, of course, many divorced or separated couples with younger children trying, in this intense circumstance, to negotiate already fragile custody arrangements. Space is an issue when you can’t get out, home schooling and managing energy and concentration levels is stressful, accommodating preferences for meals and choices for TV and listening to music and of course recognising emotional needs around when to talk and when to allow silence is extremely difficult. All of these things are hard when people are thrown into different routines and a greater exposure to the quirks and personalities of their family at such close quarters, constantly.
Whether we are navigating our time through lockdown alone or with others we normally live with or haven’t lived with for a time, these first few weeks are a period of adjustment. These days are times when we a learning new coping mechanisms and new skills to help us improve our relationships with each other.
As I’ve also said, many times before, this is the season of Lent, a designated time in the Christian year to draw closer to God in the practices of fasting, prayer and alms-giving (giving to charity). Practice these things and you will see that your tolerance and empathy for others and for yourself (!) will deepen.
Today we give thanks for families: for the ones we desperately miss and long to be with and for the ones we find extremely difficult and have to make an effort with. Think for a moment today about all the things you’re doing with your family just now that you wouldn’t normally do. Perhaps you are phoning more, writing letters, playing board games, watching TV together, exercising together, having all 3 meals each day together…..Whatever you notice, open that time to God and ask for help and wisdom in these unique opportunities because physically or remotely, on the phone or online, Christ has promised that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, for his purposes of love, then he is in the midst of it. Practising our faith and consciously bringing God into all our relationships right now is truly how we do “church” at home.
(with thanks to one of our office bearers in the church for finding and sharing this for our online church community)
words by RG Huff, to be sung to the tune “Love Divine all loves excelling”.
In our home we meet to worship, far away from sacred space,
By the Spirit, Christ is with us, making this a Holy place.
In these days of social distance, we are called to meet apart,
Still we pray for one another, hold each other in our heart.
If this time indeed is holy, we must truly keep it so,
Even in our isolation, God’s rich blessings overflow.
We avoid the world’s distractions, set our minds on things above,
Patience, kindness, goodness, mercy; faith, joy, peace, abiding love.