The Covid-19 shutdowns are reminding many of us how much of religious practice involves community interaction.
Yes, personal practice is also essential – we could easily build a list of ten examples – but it blossoms and bears fruit in our interactions.
Here are ten ways those are being impacted by coronavirus.
- Communal worship. It’s a coming together in celebrating and compassion. For now, we’re coping with a substitute, one without the touches of shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. We’re not even in the same room.
- Streaming our services. Across congregations, we’re finding this to be a mixed bag. It’s definitely not the same as being together in person, but members who live at a distance or recovering from illness or suffering chronic debilitating conditions are welcoming the opportunity to be better connected again. Attendance for morning vespers or the like is also up.
- Pastoral visits. Hospitals, especially. Pastors, priests, ministers, rabbis, and other leaders deeply miss being able to comfort those in pain or be with those who are dying, especially.
- Funerals and memorial services. On hold, when family and friends could feel the support the most.
- Weddings. Baptisms, too?
- Choirs. It’s more than just making harmony together, though you do come to feel a special kinship with your fellow singers.
- Committees. OK, we are continuing via Zoom, maybe more than ever. But it’s more awkward, and I miss sharing the snacks.
- Study groups. This can be done online, but it’s less personally revealing and interactive.
- Church suppers and soup kitchens. There’s a reason that Jesus and the disciples are always eating in the New Testament. As one rabbi I know explains, it’s because they were Jewish. Let’s honor our connections through food, when we can.
- Festivals and other fundraisers. These require advance planning and working together. Again, food’s often involved and sometimes ethnic identities, too. My favorite ones feature dancing, and that leads to joining hands.
I do want to mention a renewed appreciation for the medieval tradition of anchorites, women who lived in isolation in the church tower itself and prayed unceasingly for the members’ well-being. These days, their writings seem especially meaningful.
OK, there’s no bingo on my list. What else am I missing?