Devotion for Thursday, April 16
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had ...
Romans 15:5
            There's a side-effect of the pandemic that's rather surprising (or not surprising at all, depending on how you look at it). After all, as people of faith, we want to keep our eye on the silver lining, correct?
            Don't you feel that people are just a little bit nicer to one another? Maybe just a tad bit more compassionate? A little more friendly and caring? Oh, I know we've had to keep our distance. But as you drive down the street to the drug store, haven't you noticed people seem uncharacteristically eager to wave and smile? When you're walking the dog, haven't you run into people on the other side of the street who normally keep to themselves, but suddenly they're anxious to ask how you're doing? What about the neighbors who've called on the phone to check up on you, and the ones for whom you've done the same?
            Somehow, a crisis, in addition to bringing out the worst in people, often seems to bring out the best in people as well. I remember the same phenomenon right after the event on 9/11. We suddenly became much more aware of one another's troubles and fears, and we were willing to reach out and share our time and our compassion, even with total strangers.
            Why is it that our attitude toward our neighbors seems to change so dramatically in times of crisis? It think it's because we are forced to realize that we are not individuals so much as we are community. We get reminded that we are not alone in whatever the current mess is, and so somehow, our differences melt away.
            The problem, of course, is that when the crisis (whatever it may be) resolves, we begin to focus once again on our individuality and we forget about our interdependence.
            Maybe the challenge, before it's too late, is to pray that this time, our experience together during COVID will help us come out of this with truly changed hearts - that we'll realize what a treasure we have in one another, not just during a time of trouble, but even when things return to "normal". Paul said it well in today's Scripture verse from Romans: "may we have the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had ...".  Amen and Amen!
                                                                      Pastor Janice
Let's pray: We thank you, Lord, for inspiring your people to bless one another with care and compassion during this difficult time. We pray now that you would truly change our hearts, not just for today or for a few weeks or months, but forever. Help us learn your ways, Lord. Amen.
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