Social Distance and Spiritual Community

A devotion by Pastor Wes Poole

John 13:4-7
Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” NRSV

Has anyone experienced the phenomenon recently of watching a TV show or a commercial, like a rerun or a familiar ad, and your first thought is, Argh, they’re not wearing a mask and they’re standing way too close!” I usually catch myself a second later and just shake my head and think, “Wow, how quickly do we get so used to the new normal!” Well I just did the same thing when I read the passage above. It sounds silly, but such is the headspace most of us live in these days. I’m not decrying that, by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, I don’t think we can do enough to keep our families and communities safe. As difficult as it can be sometimes, it also dawned on me that all of this emphasis on keeping each other safe and healthy has forged a new kind of community; one that is physically distant by necessity, and yet closer, in that now we have to be more considerate of the health and well being of our neighbors and loved ones.

In the church, we have an opportunity to take this newfound attitude and put it to good use. Yes, fellowship right now is difficult in the traditional sense, but the love of God in Jesus Christ is not bound by earthly matters like time or distance. We can still keep our church family safe and spiritually healthy. For those who feel comfortable, we will continue to have in-person, socially distanced, worship with Holy Communion. When we share that meal, we’re drawn far closer than mere physical proximity. Our true unity is always in Christ, and as St. Paul reminds us, nothing can separate us from him. However, we don’t have to have come fresh from communion to share that unity with others. How might that play out practically in our current context. Even for those of us still sheltering at home, the simplest things tend to mean the most: a phone call, text, or email; a card or an actual snail mail letter. (Does anyone still do that?) My son, Ian, often takes flowers or a box of cookies and leaves them on his girlfriend’s porch. The fact is, we can still be the church in the time of COVID. Any act of care or kindness is never wasted. When this is all behind us, and God willing, it will be, we might find ourselves stronger for the struggle. So if you see or think of anyone who might be in need of the blessings of community, reach out to them. By the same token, please reach out to me if you see a need of which I should be made aware. I am always reachable by email at: or by calling the church office. For now, let’s continue to build one another up; praying for the time when we can, once again, as Paul also says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss”, or hug, handshake, etc. May that day come quickly!

Let us pray…
Lord Jesus, as you showed humility in washing the disciples feet, help us to be open to new ways of reaching out to our brothers and sisters during this time of physical distance, for we know our unity in you can never be weakened or dissolved. Keep us strong in faith and commitment to our church and greater community, and keep our hearts filled with love and forgiveness. For you live and reign with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe!

All God’s Blessings,
Pastor Wes †

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