There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “God works all things together for the good” (Romans 8:28), but it doesn’t always feel like that when you’re in a crisis – like the one we’re in right now. I’m not sure what it looks like for goodness to prevail as we are in the middle of this pandemic, but like many of you I’m praying God will show us how to live in this moment, since this moment is what we have.
Amid all the confusion, fear, and uncertainty, I want to throw out a few ideas of how we can cultivate spiritual connectedness even as we practice the “social distance” during this season of the coronavirus.
1. Let’s pray together. If you are not already connected to Common Prayer, check it out. In addition to the physical book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, there is a free app available for phones and digital devices. You can also access many of the daily prayers online here: www.CommonPrayer.net. It’s a great way for us to all feel spiritually connected even when we can’t be physically connected. Folks are praying it together all over the world.
2. Let’s get creative. Let’s find ways to build digital community since our physical community is limited right now. We’ll be exploring a whole bunch of ways to do that in the days to come – Facebook live, Google hangouts, and virtual webinars. I’ll be active on social media on Twitter and Facebook. Nothing can replace real friendships and real community, but we’ll do our best to show some virtual love during this pandemic.
3. Take advantage of the solitude. Our lives are often so rushed and cluttered that we don’t make time for God, for nature, and for each other. So let’s slow down. Cook meals together. Learn a new skill (I’m learning to blacksmith!). Use this as an excuse to take a retreat or sabbatical, to go camping or spend more time in prayer. Read books. Write letters. Call people you’ve been meaning to talk to for a while.
4. Let’s organize! Even as the coronavirus is on all of our minds, there is still much work to do. We’re in the midst of one of the most important elections in our country’s history. Take advantage of the chance to call your legislators and urge them to do justice. Let’s continue to push for much-needed change like common sense gun laws, immigration reform, and an end to the death penalty. And let’s spread the word about the March on Washington on June 20 that’s being organized by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. While the pandemic is the main news story, there are still folks living on the street, 140 million Americans struggling to make ends meet, and immigrant families who are separated at the border. I also just heard that many prisons are no longer allowing visitors, so let’s be even more intentional about writing to our incarcerated friends.
5. Check on your neighbors. Let’s especially think of those who are most vulnerable right now. Is there an elderly person who may need you to go shopping for them? Let’s turn this crisis into a great awakening of love and compassion.
One more thing. This week, we have had to postpone nearly a dozen speaking events due to the coronavirus. Not only is it disappointing, since I love getting to proclaim the Good News of God’s love, it is also a bit concerning because the honorariums I receive from speaking events fuel much of the work we do at The Simple Way and Red Letter Christians. Some of that work is as basic as providing food, blankets, and housing to people in need. We estimate losing about $10,000 this month alone from postponed events. So I want to invite you to donate generously to help sustain our non-profit organizations during this turbulent season. You can donate here:
Finances aside, our priorities right now are to make sure those most vulnerable to the disease are protected and cared for. And in some cases that means postponing some of the things we’ve had planned. We’ll be in touch in the days to come, no matter how crazy it gets. And we trust that God will indeed “work all things out for the good.” Be good to one another, as God is good to us.