As we come to the one year anniversary of the pandemic and the subsequent shutdowns, I have been reflecting a fair bit on how life has changed, how we as individuals have changed, how our communities have changed, etc... Some of these changes involve loss to be sure. We lament a loss of a sense of freedom in which we could make plans uninhibited. My life has never had so many uncertainties before, or perhaps I should say I have never had so many uncertainties at the forefront of my life. And yet, there have been some gains. We have exercised new muscles of communication and connection. We have seen people and communities come together in creative ways to serve one another. There has been beauty in the brokenness.
Another gain has been clarity. It seems there is a sense in which we have come to see the importance of things that we took for granted before. For instance, the writer to the Hebrews reminded his congregation to not neglect "to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another..." He says this in the spirit of considering "how to stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24–25). I have been well acquainted with these words throughout the course of my Christian life. However, the importance of these words has become much clearer as actually gathering together has become more fraught. As the old saying goes, "absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder."
But there is something beyond quaint fondness and even something beyond a simplistic obedience to a scriptural imperative in the call to "gather together"; there is the deep truth that we need each other. We need each other for encouragement along the way. We need to bear one another's burdens during the difficult spots of life. We need others in order to really see and know ourselves. I was struck afresh by this in an article by New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier about the hunched in perspectives we all gravitate towards. He says, "For all our elaborate culture of self-knowledge... we are still, each of us, our own blind spots. We should welcome every person we meet as a small blow against blindness."
If true humanity in general helps us see our own blind spots, how much more is it true for the Gospel community! For it is Christ that gives us the vision to be able to truly see one another. It is in Christ that we can both know and really be known. It is as we live out our lives in Christian community, gather to worship, and share communion at the Lord's Table that we truly strike a blow against blindness. As we watch churches fragment across the country or even in our city, even as we have experienced our own tensions and fragmentation, I can't help but wonder how much of our difficulties would be helped by simply being in the physical presence of one another? I see this more clearly on our pandemic anniversary.
In that vein it is encouraging to see the gains that society is making as many are on the other side of the virus and the vaccine rolls out. As I indicated last week, we are seeing our way clear toward more freedom with programs and offerings at Christ Church. As we approach Holy Week we are hoping to craft these in such a way that those who have been most cautious will feel comfortable striking a blow against blindness as we strive to gather together.