“This sucks.” A friend texted me the other day about the isolation of this pandemic. The toll is significant as we approach four months of social distancing. I miss interacting with my neighbors and friends, singing, sharing meals and village parenting.
As human beings we are made to connect and relate. As a church, we organized our whole life together to be incarnational—to reveal the love of Christ as we relate face to face. It is disorienting and hard to hold on to faith when we can’t express it and live it out in the same way.
Weekly meetings over Zoom with my cell are not the same as gathering in a living room over chips and salsa, but the heart of what we are doing is still there. But we show up online every week because when people gather together in love, with Jesus in their midst, good things happen (even through a screen!). We are working out what it means to be the church and we still have the opportunity to bring our gifts, share our lives, and work out faith as we relate.
Everyone in my cell is hurting and facing uncertainty right now. From finances or employment, mental and physical health issues, to isolation or logistics with kids. Plus, many of us are sick of life online! All of those troubles come with us when we log on to the call each week. There are no expectations to leave them behind. We are real people with real trouble and we need help. So we look to Jesus.
Instead of just venting to one another, we read a Jesus story to understand and relate to something outside of ourselves. We work together to interpret the significance of what we are reading in the context it was written which helps us hear from God in a way that is relevant to our present moment. There is room for all of what we are facing to come up. And somehow, every time, Jesus meets us.
Cells, by design, are not a Bible study or a lesson. We are not boiling it down to a right answer (as if there is one). We are also not a support group or therapy. People do learn things, get support and heal, but in the context of relating to each other and to Jesus. This is more than just helping each other survive. We can actually find life in Jesus in the midst of a pandemic, even through a screen.