“Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5, NRSV)
It’s clear that our society no longer encourages togetherness or unity. The gift of interdependence has been overcome by the idol of independence. In part this is a philosophical and moral choice we’ve made as a people. But other, less-intentional factors have also contributed to our growing self-isolation. Take entertainment as one small example. When I was a boy, we only had a handful of TV networks that, to some extent, we all experienced and watched together. The same was true of music. Before the advent of satellite radio and digital music, one had to endure a handful of unfamiliar songs to get to the one we loved. It forced us to broaden our tastes, patiently endure, and for a few minutes at least, set ourselves aside.
Our ability to self-isolate has become even easier during the pandemic. What at times has been a public health necessity may, in the future, become our preferred “new normal.” And so, it will be incumbent upon the Church to continue to teach God’s truth that life lived together, in intentional community, is not an option but a necessity. We have had glimpses of that over the past two years. Breaks in the COVID cycles have given us joyful moments of renewed togetherness. When those breaks become permanent again, will we continue to embrace our togetherness? Or quickly retreat to our bunkers?
I certainly prize my “alone time” as much as the next person, but I’ve generally experienced our Lord’s presence more intensely when that experience has been shared with others – be it in a crowded church sanctuary or with a small cohort of family gathered at the hospital bedside of a dying relative. Likewise, I greatly value silence. Our world is too full of empty words. But even silence is something I’ve experienced more powerfully and profoundly when I’ve shared it with others. Our Quaker friends speak of “holding the silence” for one another as one of the greatest gifts we can bestow. I think they are right.
And so, as Lent unfolds and this devotional booklet reminds you of the many blessings of unity and oneness you’ve experienced in community, please do not simply revel in those memories. Let’s resolve to seek out more opportunities for holy community, trusting that it is not just our custom as Christians, but our need. Indeed, our Lord’s glory will be revealed to us in a most special way as we seek it together.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, help me to more intentionally seek community and unity with others, trusting that in our togetherness, you will be revealed in a very special and profound way. Amen.
Rev. Scott E. Schul
The people of Grace share their favorite bible stories for the 2023 Lenten Devotional: I Love to Tell the Story. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily after 7 am for a new reflection.