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Bound Together in Love

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With the concerns associated with the current virus pandemic, social habits are being reshaped around  the world. We are especially hearing and thinking a lot about “physical distancing” and what that might mean in the decisions we make about how we work and care for our neighbors. During all these changes I have frequently found myself thinking, "We have entered a new world, that is completely different than ever before."

But then I have thought, “Well maybe it’s not so different after all.” We have heard in sermons in recent weeks about how the Apostle Paul wrote letters to many of the churches he had founded, because he was “physically distant” from those congregations and could not see them in person. A good portion of the New Testament consists of some of those letters that were preserved, and much of what Paul writes contains reflection on what it means to be part of the “communion of saints,” part of the “body of Christ” scattered throughout the world, and called to love and care for one another even though many times at great distances from one another.

In fact, during the approximately ten years of Paul’s missionary activity from 50 to 60 AD, fully 4 years of that time Paul spent in prison, physically cut off from much of his dear Christian family. During one of those times in prison, he wrote to his brothers and sisters at Philippi:

I thank my God every time I remember you,
constantly praying with joy
in every one of my prayers for all of you,
because of your sharing in the gospel
from the first day until now.”

– Philippians 1:3-5

Paul goes on to say, “ can think this way about you, because I know that you are holding me in your hearts.”

Paul knew something about the power of love and the presence of God’s Spirit that binds us together even across physical distances. And these days I continue to hear all the stories of how together we are being reminded and encouraged by that power at work among us as we seek to creatively support and sustain one another as we seek ways to hold one another up in care and love. As we continue in prayer and worship, and in the practices of caring ”even at a distance” we can be sustained by Paul’s words later in his letter to his beloved Philippians across the distances:

“With thanksgiving let your requests
be made known to God; and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”


God of Hope and Peace, keep us ever mindful through the Spirit of the bond of love that binds us together in Christ Jesus, and has power to sustain us over all the distances that would seem to keep us apart. Amen.