We are living in strange and frightening times with the emergence of Covid-19 and the subsequent pandemic. The leadership at Wesley is taking steps to make sure that we keep connected as a community while being careful to help limit the spread of the virus. One thing Christians must consider still and always, is how do we fulfill our discipleship obligation to neighbour love? Neighbour love is central to the gospel. The Greatest Commandment is to love God and love your neighbour (Mark 12:28-34). If we do that then we will fulfill all the commandments. The discipleship call is clear but in these days of the pandemic we must consider new and different ways of practicing our neighbour love.
Neighbour love means Social Distancing.
Usually when we think a practicing neighbour love we think of helping someone in person and expressing that love face to face. We think of hugs and helping hands but during a pandemic that is not responsible. We have all learned this new term “Social Distancing” and we must practice it carefully. This is not only so that we do not get sick ourselves but so that we do not infect our neighbour. The rapidity in which Covid-19 spreads brings new meaning to the question, “Who is our neighbour?” Our neighbour is the entire world. Doing our part to slow the spread of the disease is practicing neighbour love.
Neighbour love means listening to the scientists
In the midst of a pandemic of the level that no one alive has ever experienced it is easy to come to our own conclusions. Some folks think that the fear is overblown. Others think everything should be shut immediately. But I think we should listen to the scientists. Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant says the even though he is in “the age group that has a one in seven mortality rate if he gets it that he is not scared. He also says if you are not worried, you are not paying attention. But, he cautions that this is not a zombie apocalypse. It is not a mass extinction event.” We can and we are taking drastic action. It is not a matter of “Keep Calm – Carry on”. It is a matter of “Keep Calm – Take All Necessary Precautions to Take Care of Yourself and Your Neighbour”.
Neighbour love means Self-Care
Jesus calls us to such radical neighbour love that he says that we must give up our very selves. However, taking this literally is not only impossible but inadvisable. We take this as a challenge to dislodge ourselves from society’s self-centeredness so that we can participate in the joys and sorrows of our neighbour. While we are connected to one another in ways that we do not understand we are still selves. We are still individuals and we must take care of ourselves. We each know best what we need for our mental and spiritual health. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we will not be able to help others. It’s like the safety instructions we receive on a plane that in the unlikely event the oxygen masks fall down, put yours on first before you help others. But the call to practice self-care goes beyond that. You should practice self-care because you are worth caring for. You are worthy of love and well-being. You are a blessed child of God and you are worthwhile. Never forget that.
Neighbour Love is a Spiritual Practice
In our effort to experience the divine, in our effort to connect to the Holy Mystery, which is Wholly Love that we sometimes call God, we participate in spiritual practices. There are spiritual practices like Sunday morning worship, daily prayer or giving up things for Lent. But the practice of radical neighbour love is also a spiritual practice. So, all the things we are doing to reduce the danger during this pandemic are spiritual practices as well. Social distancing is a spiritual practice as is listening to the scientists and self-care and everything we do to increase the safety of our neighbours. I hope that in these strange times we are facing you can feel the love of God flowing in you and through you. And that together with, God, we will get through these challenging times.
Take care, be well.
Yours in Christ,