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Grace and Peace to you.          Many Samaritans from that city believed in him          because of the woman’s testimony.                   —John 4.39          Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, our Maker, is this:          to care for orphans and widows in their distress,          and to keep oneself unstained by the world.                   —James 1.27 I don't think James had COVID-19 in mind when he wrote that. He meant being unstained by the world's selfishness and anxiety. But these days we're all trying to keep ourselves unstained from a virus. So we distance ourselves. Which ought to come naturally, since social distancing is already a basic tenet of our culture. We avoid each other. We don't know our neighbors. We're lost in our phones. “Social distancing” is a good way to describe segregation, mass incarceration, mental hospitals, prisons and reservations. It's our treatment of immigrants, the poor, the mentally ill.... We send them away. Out of sight, out of mind. The woman at the well has been “distanced”—ostracized, at the end of the line, the back of the bus, forced to wait till noon for her water. Jesus has reason to distance himself: she's a woman, a Samaritan, disgraced. But in love Jesus makes a connection. He bridges the social distance. Changed by that connection, she overcomes her isolation from her village. She becomes an effective communicator. They listen to her. In this time of increased isolation and social distancing, Spirit draws us together. It is the ligament that connects us over all boundaries, the gravity that pulls us together, the Unity that prevails despite the world's divisions. It's what enables us to care for orphans and widows even while remaining unstained by the world. Maybe now more than ever Love helps us care for our neighbor, even as we keep our distance. And gives us the wisdom, courage and humility to know when to get close anyway. —With prayers for all whose health is affected, or whose lives are disrupted, and for health care workers who risk and sacrifice to serve. ~Pastor Steve

Garnaas Holmes

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