This time of quarantine is a time where, I’m sure, we are missing the contact and interaction with friends and neighbors. We all have different groups that we gather with at different times. Of course, one of my main groups is the congregation of St. Paul. I miss our time of worship together, the smiles, hugs and the support we give each other.
What makes that interaction so important is the relationships we form and nurture as we go through life. When I was working as a Pharmacist my greatest joy was the relationships I developed with my patients. Outside the pharmacy, I worked on committees and also developed many lasting relationships.
It probably doesn’t surprise most of you that I am basing my thoughts on the Gospel of John, the 15th chapter! I am not going to quote the chapter – just a few verses. Chapter 15, beginning verse 4: “Abide with me even as I abide in you. I am the vine: you are the branches. The man who abides in me and in whom I abide, bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
My interpretation is that to ‘abide’ is to ‘stay in relationship’. If we stay in relationship with Christ and follow him and his commandment to Love one another, then we can have a healthy relationship with our brothers and sisters. It is so important that we maintain that relationship with Christ, through worship, prayer, partaking of Communion and in contact with our congregation and all our friends. However, with this pandemic it becomes very difficult to maintain these relationships!
I have developed relationship with several people to whom we have delivered furniture (St. Paul Furniture Ministry). Some have really been down on their luck, but with our help, things have improved and they have offered to help deliver furniture to others – they appreciate a means of paying it forward!
Because of this furniture related relationship with the help from our church members, and caring about these persons/families; they have gone from a very broken state to finding a good job and are now ready to help others.
It is because of our relationship with Christ we can say that “we are in Christ and he in us”. Because you are loved and forgiven, you are free; free to care for others, free to love, free to forgive others. In John, chapter 17, which is called the ‘priestly prayer’, Christ prays for you and me: He asks that we be in the world, but not of the world. Our calling is to be in the world and abide in Christ – be his hands and feet in all we do.
So until this quarantine is over, strive to stay in relationship with Christ and with your friends. When we return to church worship, we will probably appreciate the hugs, handshakes, and smiles even more than before, I know I will!
Church office phone: 515-462-4270
Church office email: StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies: 605-351-0867