Do you remember the first Sunday of being quarantined when we didn’t have in-person service, but instead watched the worship and sermon live on Facebook?
I didn’t imagine for a moment that this new kind of service (at least new to us) would ever be normal for our church, for our family, for our community; even temporarily. Maybe you felt the same way.
The truth is, the church has loved us, and so many others, through some hard seasons. Individually and collectively, the body of the church has been Jesus’ hands and feet to our family both in and out of church. They’ve prayed for, encouraged, and led us back to the truth again and again. Being away from that is painfully hard. Which is where I landed for a few crummy, lonely, “me-focused” days last week. Then I thought, maybe we aren’t as far away as I think we are?
As I talked with a friend earlier this week it occurred to me that virtually EVERYONE was feeling a new kind of loneliness (isn’t it great when you realize you aren’t the only one?) but not everyone was dealing with that experience in the same way.
In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Which made me realize that I’ve thought about this quarantine, and my reaction to it, all wrong. While I’ve been busy thinking that I can’t physically come alongside my church family and friends right now, I’ve missed that I certainly lessen their burdens by being available, by finding ways to reach out and encourage; in short, by loving like Jesus does.
Then I had to figure out where to start! So, I reached out to a few friends who graciously shared some practical ways they have stayed in fellowship with friends, family and neighbors even when they couldn’t fellowship in person.
- My kids and I have painted rocks and hid them in neighbors’ yards to let them find later.
- We drove by homes of our small group members and texted them to come outside and we’d chat for a few minutes from a distance just to say hi.
- One thing a couple friends and I have done is make each other baskets of random goodies from around our houses (like books, snacks, tea, etc.) and drop it off at each other’s doorstep.
- For my daughter’s birthday our small group from church drove by as a parade with birthday signs and stopped to sing Happy Birthday.
- I’ve done zoom or Skype calls with friends!
- We use the “Marco Polo” app. It lets you record videos and send them to your friends within the app. You can view them and respond anytime. It’s nice to see faces and record funny messages, knowing you’ll make someone smile.
- We’ve sent “just because” cards and gifts. It is so exciting and fulfilling to put something in the mail that we know will surprise someone we love.
- “Words With Friends” is an app we’ve tried. It’s like a never-ending scrabble game you can play with anyone, no matter where they are!
- Blocking out a half hour to place an intentional phone call has connected us more with people in our family who we do not see very often anyway. One benefit to the current situation is having the time to place and enjoy these calls!
- A friend, myself and our kids are meeting today for a "car picnic." We'll each make lunch, park next to each other and visit with windows rolled down. The thought of another Zoom visit was just too depressing.
- A young friend of ours is turning 10 soon. His mom sent out invitations to drive by their home at the appointed time. We'll wave and holler and generally make a big to-do. It'll be a birthday parade!
- We walk in our neighborhood each day and make a point to chat (from a safe distance) with the people who might only get a nod during busier times.
- We've shared MCC's live services with my sister and brother-in-law who live out of state and don't have a church home. It feels as though we're attending church together for the first time! The resulting conversations about eternal matters remind us that is quarantine will pass and that this time can be used for His glory.
- MCC has been sending out daily prayer points, praying through those has kept my eyes open to the needs around us and reminded me that I am not alone.
- When a friend dropped something off at our house the other day, I stood outside her car and we talked through the car window for 30 minutes or so. I was surprised at how much better I felt after that drive-by visit!
- I'm part of a group text and one of us asks a general question - like favorite book or dessert or restaurant - and we all answer. We also use the text for prayer requests and funny memes, whatever. It's a way to get to know each other better and think about something else.
What amazing, beautiful responses to a difficult situation! Praise God for friends, family, and neighbors that not only stay connected during a crisis like this, but purposefully decide to strengthen their relationship through it! Check back tomorrow for more ideas on how to stay connected and to remain in fellowship during a time when staying apart almost seems easier.
Now it's your turn to share! What have you done to stay fellowship with your friends, family and neighbors these past few weeks!