Sometimes, when you’re isolated or fearful, it’s hard to feel connected to anything. During these times of COVID-19, many of us feel that way. We’re cut off from familiar places and people. To the extent that we derive comfort from church-based faith, we’re also cut off from the buildings and communities in which we usually experience it. This can easily lead to a feeling of being cut off from God.
Churches have not always prepared us to cope with these feelings. Often they have encouraged us to associate God with particular locations, practices, and people. If God resides in the church, we all have reason to go there, right?
Too often churches have associated holiness with rarity. We do not build great cathedrals out of mud or bare concrete, but polished marble. We create statues out of gold and silver, not dirt. We “honor” God by putting godly things on high, reserving them for special places and times. The rarer something is, the more precious and holy it seems to us.
Yet look how God chooses to come to God’s people. Jesus wandered as a common person, among common people. Few of his great revelations came on remote mountaintops. Most came amid the messy fabric of daily life. In the end, his great mission was revealed in the most basic commonality of humankind, the one thing we all experience: death. (It was followed by resurrection, so the story ends happily!)
Even today, God promises to come to us through words written in scripture, through waters of baptism, through bread and wine in communion. All of these are elements so basic as to be ubiquitous. God does not reserve God’s self to these elements either. We experience God in these common things and moments so we can better perceive God in every place and moment. Because God comes through ordinary things, making them extraordinary, we understand that God also works through ordinary people, making them extraordinary.
And there we are. Even when we’re at our most ordinary, feeling the least rare and holy–even when we’re sad, alone, sick, or afraid—God is in, with, and among us. When we are least able to call ourselves extraordinary, God reminds us that we are.
We could no more be disconnected from God than we would be disconnected from the basic elements of our lives. Where there is air, we breathe in Spirit. Where there is water, we feel God washing us clean. Where there is bread, wine, or any form of sustenance, we feel God feeding and strengthening us anew. We do not create this, nor can we be cut off from it. Every atom of the universe resounds with it, for our sake and for the sake of God’s love for us.
In the end, the question is less how and where God shows up, but for whom and why. Know today that God is here with and for you and for those you care about or worry for. We are beloved. We will not be abandoned.