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.