Social Distancing, Yet Staying Connected!

As you know and have repeatedly heard about Covid 19 or Coronavirus, "This is serious!" We have been staying home nearly all of the time except for an occasional run to the post office to retrieve the mail, or to the drugstore drive-up to pick up meds or a quick in and out at the neighborhood grocery store to restock the pantry. Instead of our usual Sunday worship schedule, we watched and participated in worship this past Lord's Day via a live stream through FaceBook since all public gatherings larger than fifty individuals have been discontinued.
The Coronavirus emerging in pink.
Credit: NAIAD-RML/de Wit/Fischer

I recently heard this comment about the service, "This would not have been possible ten years ago!" (FaceBook Live was launched in 2015.) I generally agree. It has become easier because of today's social media platforms. However, I do remember being "snowed in" as a teenager in the sixties in Vandalia and watching my pastor preaching live on television to homebound congregants via the local cable company's access channel. I was told that there were only two persons present in the auditorium on that occasion, the preacher and a layman behind the camera! We have done this before!

All of our weekly church activities at the building have subsequently been suspended. We are making telephone calls to those in the hospital in lieu of in-person visits. We have emailed study outlines and encouraged our classes to continue to read the curriculum for the Lenten study from home. In short, we are complying with the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control) recommended protocols. We are practicing "social distancing" for this season of heightened alert to try and "tamp down" the virus and slow the spreading of this global pandemic.

This week I have been emailing,  texting and making calls to several friends to check in on them and keep connected with them. I am grateful for these ways to stay in touch. A psychologist said on the morning news just days ago, "Social distancing does not mean social isolation!" Some of my fellow church friends are keeping busy. One was involved in an indoor painting project while another was  reading, but anxiously looking forward to clearer skies and warmer temperatures to get outside to engage in some yard work.

There may be many more within our circle of friends that would appreciate connecting with "a significant someone" to combat the feelings of isolation. Conversation is curative and something we all can do to bless others as well as help ourselves during these next days, weeks and perhaps, months while this virus takes its course. We have family out of state and we are grateful for the technology that makes face-to-face interactions possible. To see loved ones and be able to talk with them in real-time makes this social "down time" more manageable.

We all may need to "step up our game" and be more intentional with these digital and real time connections.  Regretfully saying to ourselves, "I should have called so and so today" won't get the job done! It will help to review our contact lists daily, prayerfully decide who, when and in what way to reach out, and then follow through! Remember, there is another Beatitude of our Lord that's in the book of Acts that says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive!" (Acts 20:35). Let's give some friends in need a little gift of our time during this season of uncertainty and isolation!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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