Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At times Facebook memories are the best. At other times Facebook memories are sad. This morning I woke up to a Facebook memory from just last year. The Smith family was traveling to a cousin's farm in Hendersonville for a week of hiking, fishing, family BBQs and Fourth of July fun. It was a week of hiking and biking the Blue Ridge Parkway. A week of hugs, high fives, and picnics with 30 or more people by the pond. A week that for this year is gone. What was a fun memory at first turned into a sad realization.
This summer and this Fourth of July will be very different than those of years past. Sure there will be opportunities for a lot of family fun, but there will also be constant reminders that things are not what they used to be. The new question as a family member leaves our house is no longer "Do you have your wallet or keys?," it is now "Do you have your mask?"
In thinking about this difference, I am inclined to think about the disciples, post Jesus's resurrection and ascension. I wonder if they had human moments of seeing the church grow and then caught themselves wishing that Jesus was with them ... not in their hearts, but physically present to touch, hug and celebrate with them? I am sure in the moments of the early church there were moments of great joy mixed with moments of sadness. It's human! It's real!
As I write to you today, I want to offer some advice. Give yourself permission to celebrate and to be sad. To enjoy and be nervous. Give yourself permission to exercise and have energy and give yourself permission to be tired and in need of rest. In short, give yourself permission to be real with your Lord and Savior and with the ones you love.
People boldly striking out and living just as they did before this pandemic, ignoring the world around us, are not being real. At best it is a facade; at worst, it is a selfish "devil-may-care attitude" that minimizes the dangers and keeps this disease growing. It is an attitude that is sinful. During this new time, give yourself permission to be real. Our reality is currently different. Wear your masks, be safe, love your neighbor as yourself, and keep your guard up. We are all in this new reality together.