PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — We Need Each Other

“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

My family held our first Zoom meeting last night. Considering the fact that many of us had never heard of Zoom two weeks ago, that’s pretty impressive!

It was fun seeing my sisters, their spouses and all of our kids on the same screen. We logged in from our own places of social isolation — from Utah to Rhode Island to Michigan to South Carolina — to touch base and see how everyone is handling the massive change in our world.

Surprisingly, we didn’t all talk at the same time — so it was different from Thanksgiving that way — but rather listened to how each person was doing in their venue. We plan to make it a weekly Sunday evening date for the duration. Next week we are going to try to figure out who to play Trivial Pursuit on Zoom together.

On Saturday I had a long conversation with my best friend and her daughter, my godchild. Since I moved from North Dakota, we have kept in touch but we haven’t talked on the phone and made that kind of connection as often as we should.

Both of these communications this weekend remind me of some of the good that can come from this time of separation. We are an incredibly individualized society. For Pete’s sake, the image of the “rugged individualist” is one of the prime tropes upon which our nation has been built — we can succeed on our own and don’t need the help of others.

However, now when we are truly supposed to be on our own, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we do need each other. We need social interaction and community to not only thrive but simply to survive.

That is why it is so absolutely vital that each of us, in our own isolation, is deliberate about reaching out and connecting with other people on a regular basis, whether that means a phone call or a zoom meeting or Skype or whatever. That we take some time each day to talk to one another.

At the church I serve, Emanuel, we are trying to create opportunities for connection. We are having leadership reach out to all of our members to make a personal connection and check in with them.

We are also providing Zoom prayer meetings, where we will read Scripture; say the Lord’s Prayer and pray for one another; and starting a Pastoral Check In, a couple of times a week, with one of the pastors for anyone who wishes to be part of a pastoral care support group. We will build small groups with prayer buddies for those who wish to have support a few times a week an online Zoom Bible Study.

At Emanuel, we want to use this time to strengthen our community and reach out and support each other because that is what a church is supposed to do — to move us beyond our isolation and join with each other and God to grow our faith and serve our community.

God, in the Creation story from Genesis 2, said it best.  “It is not good for humans to be alone.” We are not made to be in isolation. We may fool ourselves from time to time into thinking that we are at our best when we are rugged individualists, but that is completely counter to the Christian message.

So reach out to someone with whom you haven’t connected lately and renew the relationship, find time for those who you may have neglected because you’ve been too busy, rediscover that a phone can be used for more than texting — that you can actually use it to talk to people in person, too.

The author of Hebrews had it right. “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” Or, to amend what the old AT & T ad said: “Reach out and touch someone — from an acceptable social distance.”


Oh God of love, thank you for creating us for community. Help us during this time of isolation to find ways to strengthen our connections with one another and with you. In the midst of this time of trial, allow us to find grace from you and support from one another.  In the name of Jesus who journeys with us. Amen.

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