One-a-Day...for the Heart: Social Distancing
So many things have changed in our world since Covid-19 has been loosed on humanity. No longer are we assured of being able to sit down at a favorite restaurant and enjoy a meal. Whether a restaurant’s dining room is open depends on the number of incidences of Covid-19 in an area. Shopping in a grocery store has taken on a new look, with arrows on the floor marking directional patterns on each aisle. Church pews and chairs are separated to allow for a 6-feet distance between people. The regulations for keeping a safe distance between each other have changed our ability to socialize; indeed, the whole approach to interacting with others has caused many people to stay away from social groups and family get-togethers.
Lepers understood social distancing long before any of us. Even royalty, when infected with leprosy, lived in separate quarters from the rest of society. There was no cure for the ancient, highly-contagious disease, and death and disfigurement were the only prognoses. Today the disease, known as Hansen’s Disease, is easily curable, but still the bacteria, spread through respiratory droplets, infects 150-250 Americans every year.
The stigma of “LEPER!!” is gone now; no more need to wear a bell around the neck and warn others of a leper’s approach; no more banishing a leper beyond the gates of a city. Jesus was not afraid to touch lepers. He touched them and healed them. When He came upon a man with an advanced case of leprosy who begged Him for healing, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ He said, ‘Be healed.” And instantly the leprosy disappeared (Luke 5:12-14 NLT).
Society distanced itself from lepers; Jesus did not. As we practice social distancing until the threat of the Coronavirus is gone, Jesus isn’t distancing Himself from us, either. His Church is alive and well…and fully functional via smartphones, email, social media, and good old snail’s mail. We can easily gather in His name whether we’re 1 foot apart, 6 feet apart, or 3,000 miles from each other. And Jesus joins us there, too! He said, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there” (Matthew 18:19-20 MSG). He’s still touching the socially distanced.