On social distancing and the church

When Covid19 struck, we were closed in our homes. There was no place to go—not even church—and we weren’t allowed to drive outside of our towns, except to get groceries, drugs, or to go to the hospital.

Those were rough days. There were quite a few weeks without any contact with anyone but my husband. (Thankfully, he’s a great guy.)

I actually talked to the neighbor’s ponies one time.

Spain is a lot like Italy in culture: friendly, touchy, huggy and kissy.

When I was finally allowed to do grocery shopping, I got on an elevator. The lady getting on with me backed up into the corner. I naturally did the same. Six feet distancing. She was actually afraid of me! Both of us were wearing masks, and soon, we would both disinfect our hands and grab a clean buggy—with new gloves on. But, she was concerned to be in the same closed space with a stranger.

At church, at first, the recommended Corona virus precautions seemed like a joke. Some of the guys did happy foot-bump greetings. But then, the virus hit Spain hard. Now, at church we smile behind masks and hope our eyes convey friendship. No touching, kisses, hugs, or any physical contact. Everyone’s feet and hands are disinfected at the door. It doesn’t feel like fellowship. But, we’ll take it. It sure beats sitting at home and all our services being remote, as in the beginning.

Social distancing is not normal. It’s not normal in Spain and Italy, but it’s not normal anywhere else, either, not even where the cultures are a little “cooler” than here. Why?

We need other people.

Especially in the body of Christ, we need others. The whole reason for the church is to worship the Lord together—a corporate uniting of hearts. Yes, we go to listen to the Word preached. I’m not taking away from that at all. But, we actually encourage each other by being physically present together.

At the height of the pandemic in Spain, there were a few months that it was illegal to hold physical services, and we didn’t. We did streaming, and it worked for the short time it was needed.

But, oh, being together again is a blessing—even behind our masks.

The Bible talks about the early church gathering together regularly on Sundays.

  • And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).
  • And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight (Acts 20:7).
  • For first of all, when ye come together in the church…. (1 Corinthians 11:18a).
  • Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come (1 Corinthians 16:2).

From the beginning of the church and even before Pentecost, it was important for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to come together for mutual benefit. The Apostle Paul encourages us with these words: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:12-16).

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

The Day of the Lord is closer, and assembling ourselves is even more important than ever before. The Bible says so.

Let’s not forsake our assembly.

The glory of gray hair

I love gray hair. It’s so pretty.

Now, it’s even in style for young people—which cracks me up. We were in a public place a couple of years ago. One of the workers, probably in his early twenties, was sporting the new silver gray color in kind of a spikey, streaky style, along with gauge earrings. He certainly caught my attention.

On an elderly person, silver hair makes him glow. In Spanish, we say an elderly man with gray or white hair looks “interesting.” In English, “distinguished.” Things are changing a little, but in Spain it used to be not at all acceptable for a woman to show any gray. Everyone colored their hair. I am glad attitudes are changing, because I enjoy seeing a beautiful white head of hair, male or female.

Plus, I don’t feel so bad sporting my own natural highlights.

Please understand, I am not against hair color. Especially when a woman has little kids and a lot of gray, I don’t blame her at all for not wanting to look like her children’s grandmother.

In my own family, there’s a tendency towards “skunk streaks”—white streaks front to back, somewhere on the top of the head and very dark or black hair on either side. Blame the genes. I always understood my relatives covering that up. Once the rest of the hair turned white, they have let it all go white—and the result is beautiful.

Did you know the Bible loves gray hair?

It is a sign of wisdom and honor. The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31). Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:32).

God promises to take care of us, even in our latter years. And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you (Isaiah 46.4).

Several prophets saw God in visions. The Daniel passage talks about God the Father, and the verse in Revelation refers to Jesus. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire (Daniel 7:9). His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire (Revelation 1:14).

I am not sure anyone can accurately describe God. The humans who actually saw Him describe Him with terms like: light, glory, rainbows, thrones, and pure, dazzling white.

Many gray-haired people have a lifetime of experiences collected under their silvery manes. Have you ever asked them to tell you about their lives? A few years ago, my mother mentioned, “You never really know a person’s life story until their funeral. I think that’s sad.” I do too.

There’s a lot to be learned from an older person. A godly elder has much wisdom to offer his younger friends.

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

Fiction review: I’ll Watch the Moon

Ann Tatlock’s I’ll Watch the Moon is a different kind of book from her—based on her grandmother’s story. I absolutely loved it.

She calls it a “love story,” and it is, though it’s not a romance. Told from a little girl’s viewpoint, we learn of Nova’s star-gazing brother, Dewey, and her Auntie Dortha, mother, and two men: Josef and Thomas. She also introduces us to Dewey’s friends and Dewey’s world. Dewey sincerely wants to be the first man on the moon.

Little by little, Josef’s life story unfolds, along with some life-changing happenings in Nova’s life. Unfortunately, I can’t tell more without spoiling.

This is a sweet, lovely read. I enjoyed the sensitivity with which it is told and the authentic historical setting. A wonderful book that I can recommend to anyone. Easily five stars.

It isn’t fair

How many say, “I dropped out of church” or “I’m not interested in church” or “I can’t trust people in church” or “Just not interested in God” …

because …

someone who claims to be a Christian hurt them?

It’s sad that a Christian didn’t act like a Christian. That someone was a hypocrite. That a person who claims to be a Christ follower acted like a jerk—or worse—inflicting soul-wounds on another person.

But, you know something?

It’s not fair to judge God by something a rotten human being did.

Humans have sinned—since the first two of them. Humans fail. Humans can be hypocritical. They can hurt others. They can be downright nasty.

And humans who are Christians—or say they are—can disappoint.

Some of these hurts are very deep.

They can leave scars.

But people shouldn’t judge God by people.

People are on one spectrum, but God is:

  • love (1 John 4:8)
  • perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • good (1 Chronicles 16:34)
  • faithful (Psalm 119:90)
  • merciful (Psalm 103:8)
  • kind (Psalm 117:2)
  • full of grace and truth (John 1:14)
  • caring (1 Peter 5:7)

God doesn’t disappoint. He can’t. He wants to save every single soul. He gives light to every person. He wants to have a relationship with us.

He loves you.

Genuinely.

Without holding back.

Forever.

God is infinitely greater than any person.

Don’t reject His house because of sinful people.

And, more importantly, don’t reject Him because some of the people who go to church don’t act like Christians. Someone wisely said, “The church is a hospital.” The truth is that everyone at church is needy, and the Lord is the Great Physician.

Don’t give up on God.

He never gave up on you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

A Phrase for 2019


A lot of my organized friends have already chosen a word or a theme for the new year. The more “with it” friends had chosen theirs before the end of last year. Instead of thinking very deeply in December, I was visiting with my family. So now, home again and jet lagged, I have time to meditate, pray more, and look somewhat sanely at the year ahead.

It’s already full of mountains and valleys. It’s unsure. I find myself wondering, anxious, and questioning.

It’s barely begun.

I’m the kind of person who likes to know what’s going to happen, so I can prepare.

But, who can prepare me for the unknown? Who can lead me through the labyrinth of this year? Who will take me by the hand? And, whom can I trust—completely?

Who’s the best provider? Who will show me the way, if I am only willing to trust?

I’m sure you’ve guessed. The Lord. God.

He has led me all my life. Even before my birth He knew me. He saved me when I was a young lady. He has led me in so many marvelous adventures and carried me through the awful times. He’s the One who knew my limits when I couldn’t take any more. He’s the One who meets me through His Word.

The Lord is amazing. He knows everything—all about 2019. Time doesn’t limit Him. He is everywhere, all the time, preparing my way. He hears my prayers and knows my needs before I even know them myself.

So, I will trust.

Remembering His faithfulness through my fifty-year walk with Jesus, I know by experience that He delights in doing the impossible—in surprising me with His goodness. (Though, why should I be surprised? God is good.)

God loves and cares for me. It never ceases to amaze me that He actually cares for a silly person with an abstract mind. He cares for me personally, and the awesome God who created the universe constantly shows me his love. He loved me so much He gave His lifeblood for me—and is preparing a place for me.

Knowing God’s character, I can trust Him in every detail of 2019.

I told you I can see the bumps and valleys. I have a feeling God sees 2019 as one straight, level line. And my labyrinth? He knows the way. It’s already mapped and memorized.

I need only to hold His hand.

What’s my phrase for 2019?

“trusting God through the labyrinth”

We’ll get through it together—around every twist and turn. And, I promise I’ll tell you all about it as we go!

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8).

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).