Community is something that has been hard throughout this time of pandemic and social distancing. But the ways community has still shown up in and through all of this is a testament to the fact that we are beings created in and for community. As Genesis 1:26 says “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’” We are created in the image of God, and God is the community of the Trinity; God, Christ, and Holy Spirit. Thus we as human beings are created into a community. We are created for life together with other human beings. This is part of what makes distancing so hard, being separated from our communities and from life together with other people. We are disconnected from an integral part of our own beings. Even still community is finding ways of showing up.
One of the interesting and somewhat unique opportunities that this time of online worship and online gatherings has afforded us is to be able to see and experience how others are doing virtual worship and to connect with those who are far away in new ways. To worship with congregations or communities with which we were once a part, or with our friends/families and their congregations. To connect with our friends and family who are far away more often than we had before. One of the things I have appreciated most has been the opportunity to participate in evening prayer services with both my alma mater, Valparaiso University, and a congregation in Cleveland where one of my friends works. Evening prayer, and Holden Evening Prayer specifically, is one of my all-time favorite worship settings. Holden is a service that has become engrained in my soul through the consistent presence it had in my weekly routine through my college years. It is a service which I know by heart. And even though these days it has been online it has still been meaningful to be able to be a part of a virtual worshiping community to pray Holden Evening Prayer together. Even though it is very different than worshiping in person, I have experienced how community gathered together to pray online can be a grounding experience. Community even when virtual continues to be so important right now.
For me it can be so exciting to see someone at a distance or even on a screen and I think that it is so exciting and filling because when we see and connect with others (however that is able to happen right now) we are getting a taste of being in community. We are getting a piece of ourselves, a piece of the core of our humanness, back in that moment. I know it is not the same, and my soul longs for the day when we are able to be together in person and sing together and when hugs are safe, but I have come to appreciate the different ways we are discovering of being community together while apart.
It is of increasing importance, especially the longer we are in this, that we continue to seek out ways of connecting with each other, that we seek out connection, that we reach out to each other, checking in on those in our various communities, and that we check in on our friends and relatives who live alone, especially as the winter months approach and might add to feelings of isolation and disconnection. As we all start to think of new and creative ways to gather and celebrate the holidays, take time to think of those who you might be able to include whether they are nearby or far away. Whether that is through having Zoom Happy Hour on Fridays with your relatives or meeting a friend to go for a walk to chat, we need to stay connected to each other because we are created to be in community with one another.
I pray that we all continue to find ways to be connected and to support each other as we continue through this unprecedented time, because being in community is so important to the core of our beings.
Dear God, being alone is hard. We were created for community, not isolation. We thank you for the gift of technology to help us connect when we are apart. Help us to stay connected to each other and to stay connected to you. Amen.