Presence Matters. Touch Matters. Connection Matters.
The presence of God changes everything. Moses said he would not go anywhere without the presence of God and the Psalmist begged God not to remove him from His presence (Exodus 33:15, Psalm 51:11)
Touch matters. Human beings were made for contact, for connection, for community. And yes, we were made for causes.
I’m thankful for the marvels of technology and how many people have been able to engage with a worship service and receive encouragement and grace during this time. I am also convinced it is an inferior substitute for the people of God gathering safely in a physical space to encounter the One who made us and participate in corporate worship and teaching.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has stretched the resources of the world and its public healthcare systems, governments, economies, scientists, families, educators, and faith structures beyond what has been experienced for at least 100 years. Much of the debate that has begun is being conducted in the midst of grieving and human tragedy. Loss of life, normalcy, experiences, and hope for the future all appear to be ours with increased regularity.
But, presence matters. Touch matters. Our ability to see, touch, and connect with others is not only a visceral matter but a matter of great social consequence. I am concerned for the spiritual, social, economic, and generational impact of our times. I find much of the data to be frustrating. Clearly the models that incorporated social distancing were vastly overreaching. It seems increasingly clear that many more people (by a factor of 10-20-50-80 times) have actually been infected and recovered than is now statistically known. Clearly the Coronavirus is more contagious than the seasonal flu, but may not be deadlier. All the same, the lives that have been lost and the way the globe has responded to this pandemic may have effects long beyond the presence of the physical disease.
So, as I write in CA today, all the data appears to point to the fact that we have been almost miraculously spared from the worst projections. Yes, I recognize there are fears of a more virulent resurgence in the Fall/Winter of 2020/2021. But, I am deeply concerned for the spiritual, social and mental health consequences of our lockdown procedures. I strongly believe we have to get people back to gathering in community, back to work, and undergirding our health care and manufacturing systems.
I wrote some time ago that I believed that 4 words would define this time: Reveal-Reset-Reentry-Revival (or Reformation). Today, I remain convinced that part of what has been revealed is that we are increasingly vulnerable in our health care and manufacturing systems. We also know how much the presence of God, our connection with one another, and the importance of shared experiences are for our culture and our future. So, I’ll be joining with others soon to share a plan to restore worship gatherings and remain sensitive to public health concerns. We can and must protect individual and corporate freedoms while we fight this disease. Presence matters. Touch matters.