Love in the Time of Pandemic
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35 NRSV
As anxiety provoking as the earliest days of Covid-19 were, it was easy to love one other. We shared a universal love language that came with catchy phrases:
Stay Home, Save Lives
Wash Your Hands
We Can Do Hard Things
Almost two years into the pandemic, loving one another has transformed from snappy slogans into convoluted questions more fitting for a Dear Abby column. If someone invites me to dinner but I’m not socializing indoors yet, is it more loving to hurt their feelings by bowing out or to risk a painfully honest conversation? When worship returns in person and beloved faces are still missing, how many times is too many to reach out and say we’re thinking about you before it comes across as nagging? What does love look like when we all have different needs and we’re not even sure of what our own needs are going to be from one week to the next?
The love Jesus gave was not one-size-fits-all. He loved some people through healing, some through a shared meal, and others through stories and teachings. If we are to love as he did, perhaps it requires me to define the love that I need—whether it is space (even as we long to be together) or continued invitations with the ability to hear no—and to honor the love you ask for in return.
May we navigate our ever-evolving needs with Christ’s love as our guide. Amen.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.