Lenten Thoughts: Social Distancing



"And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil."

With the worldwide pandemic, many churches, as well as other houses of worship are closing their physical doors.  That doesn't mean they are turning people away; most are turning to non-traditional ways to reach out congregants as well as the community.   Though there may be no physical interaction, there are podcasts, virtual preaching, social media streaming...all creative ways to spread the word without the threat of infection.

The fact that this need for social distancing is happening during Lent speaks to me.  I'm not necessarily a fan of social distancing, but if it HAD to happen, Lent seems to be the "best" time for it.  As the Bible tells it, Jesus goes off by himself.  As I see it Lent is a time for personal reflection and self-sacrifice; specifically for me it is a period where I try to focus on the bigger picture.  I try to make this time of year a time where I concentrate on what I can do for this world that I live in.  When I give up something for Lent, I do so to remind myself of all that I do have.  I am reminded that I need to give of myself as well; for I do not stand alone, I am part of a bigger picture.  

As I've thought about it, in some way it is like this virus is the devil; tempting us to hoard and be self-serving.  How do we react to this "temptation?"  Do we give in to "sinful ways?"  Do we think of self and not of others?  Or, do we, like Christ, enter the wilderness and keep focused on the journey?

I want to focus on the journey.  As such, I've been mindfully performing acts of kindness each and every day of Lent.  Most of them are small acts; making an effort to say hello to strangers as I walk by or holding the door open.  Some are larger, like paying for a ticket to the high school musical (which happened BEFORE the self-quarantine) for a friend or a gift card to a new neighbor.  Big or small, they are intentional acts that focus not on me, but on others.

During this time of social distance, be it for more or less than the forty days of Lent, let's use the time for reflection.  Reflection on how we can make the world a better place.

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