July/August 2020

Dear Friends,

We have heard that my wearing a mask does not protect me from becoming infected. But it does protect those around me from germs that I exhale, especially if I cough or sneeze. Bishop Curry in reflecting on this reality said, “So I wear a mask to protect you, and you wear a mask to protect me. What could be more Christian than that?” He went on to say, “The kind of love that seeks the good and welfare and the well being of others is the kind of love that Jesus taught us.” He's also said on many occasions, “If it's not about love, it's not about God.

God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God. How then, shall we abide in love and express God's love in this time of pandemic? One way we do so is by taking those steps that protect others, even at some inconvenience to ourselves. Wearing a mask in public spaces is a little inconvenient, and I'm constantly forgetting mine in the car and having to go back for it. Staying well separated from other people is a little inconvenient, as was waiting in line to get into to Trader Joe's because they are limiting the number of people in the store at one time. We see more and more people not wearing masks, or observing social distancing, because of these inconveniences. As Christians, however, we know we are called to endure minor, and even major inconvenience when love of neighbor requires it.

My parents are in their late 80s and in poor health. I long to spend time with them during their remaining years. But because I love them, and because my wife works retail, I must limit my time with them severely. We spend short periods of time together outdoors when we can but I don't go into their houses for more than a few minutes to take care of something. There is frustration and loneliness involved in loving vulnerable people right now. But these are minor sacrifices compared to those of the apostles. It is both the human and the Christian thing to make personal sacrifices in order to be about God's love.

One way we can extend God's love beyond our immediate families is to reach out to those who may be particularly isolated and starved for human contact. I've become aware that the experience of quarantine is markedly different for those who live alone, compared to people who share a house with someone. If you live with someone, you at least have regular personal interaction with the others in your home. In a one person household, every human contact involves planning or reaching out.

This past Sunday we had the text, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” We know that we are beloved by God through Jesus Christ who gave himself for us. I give thanks for all of you, that secure in God's love, you love others by protecting both family and community members.

God be with you,

The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Harries