Isolation and Questions about Mission – Part 2 (with Margaret Wilson)
In Part 1, two weeks ago, we asked how the church’s mission can continue while we are social distancing and our church events and programs have either have shifted to online forms or have been suspended completely. It comes down to love – love for God, love for one another and love for the world. This is am important foundation to thinking about mission.
This week we want take the logical step towards the practical. How do we demonstrate God’s love during isolation and suspended programs?
For this I am thankful for the input of Margaret Wilson, one of our church members. Margaret has been actively involved in extending God’s love to others in this time of social distancing and isolation. Here is some of the ways she has been reaching out to others:
After hearing on the news how supermarket and pharmacy staff were being abused and harassed over shortages of supplies like toilet rolls and Ventolin I felt prompted to send emails to my local pharmacy and the IGA store where I shop regularly. I just let them know how sorry I was that they were being treated in this way, thanked them for all they are doing and assured them of my prayers for their safety and well- being during this difficult time. I received a phone call from my pharmacist, a Christian, thanking me and saying it was so good to have this support, that his staff was under great pressure and it meant a lot to them. An email came back almost immediately from the manager of IGA, a Muslim, who said how kind it was of me to contact them and to let them know I was praying for them. On receiving these positive responses I then emailed or rang my local vet (a Christian), the specialist vet hospital (where we are also well known), my dentist, acupuncturist, physio., hairdresser, my favourite café, local bank, and my orthopaedic surgeon (a Christian). When I went for my ‘flu shot I took a potted orchid for my GP (also a Christian). She told me she was exhausted and really appreciated the gift.
I have sent flowers and appropriate notes to a few friends who are in my age group who live alone and are not Christians.
I had a huge box of pastries delivered as a treat for my neighbours who are coping with 2 children at home and the husband now has no work till our country returns to normal. They pigged out all day on the pastries!!
I will contact all the service people again soon to reassure them of my continued prayers.
To encourage some of our older church folk and some of my friends from other churches as well as non-Christian friends I have been sending out an email each evening containing funny sayings/jokes especially about the ‘virus’. I have been surprised at how much these are being appreciated as folk turn on their computers each morning for their daily smile or chuckle. I often include an illustrated prayer or verse as well. (Let me know if you would like to be added to the mailing list)!
What Margaret is doing shows that both ideas and action are required. You could be doing something similar to what Margaret described. Here are some other ideas that Margaret has come up with. The great thing is that these are ideas that can involve people of all ages:
Write an encouraging Bible verse in chalk on the pavement for walkers to read as they pass by. Write a new verse every few days.
Get children to design a card and write a message to neighbours telling them you are thinking of them and asking elderly or vulnerable folk if there is anything you can do for them. You will need to put your name and contact details on the card. Then when your family goes for a walk the cards can be put in letterboxes.
You could follow up with a little bag of sweets and a text in letterboxes in a couple of weeks’ time with the links to a few church services that they might like to watch or listen to.
Bake some biscuits and give a few to neighbours with a message. (My neighbours sent in Anzac Biscuits to me on Anzac Day).
Make a big red heart and attach it to the power pole or your letter box.
Arrange a time to have coffee and a chat over the fence with a neighbour if they have time to spare.
If you live in an apartment make a big red heart with a Bible verse on it and place it in the area of the letterboxes with your contact details for anyone who is lonely or needing help. (Don’t give details if you live alone).
Wave and speak to people as you walk near enough to them when out exercising.
Put up some twinkle lights on your house or balcony to cheer up people or use a laser light with pretty patterns.
Attach streamers to the letterbox.
Dress up in funny clothes when you go for a walk to give people a smile.
Put a ‘thank you’ message on your letterbox and garbage bin lid for these service people to see. (All good training for children to learn to appreciate others).
Get the children to make some paper flowers and leave on the doorstep of a neighbour with a message from the children. Get them to ring the bell and run so it’s a surprise for the person when they open the door.
Put a page of puzzles in the letterbox of neighbours who have children. (You an get the puzzles from the internet).
In addition, Morling College lecturer, Mike Frost, has also compiled an inspiring list of ways to love our neighbour during this time of isolation.
Finally, we’d love to hear any feedback about your experiences of extending God’s love to others during isolation.