For more than a year now, we’ve had to deal with the separation and isolation associated with COVID. Even though it seems that things are beginning to “open up”, we are all still a little cautious. We all want to do the right thing for our own health and safety of others, but it’s been hard. This has been a season of separation and distance. Out of concern for others, we have refrained from visiting family and friends. We have not attended social gatherings like we used to. We don’t go out much. We’ve become a lot less connected to one another.
Technology has helped in some regards. It has allowed us to stay connected virtually. On the other hand, technology has also allowed some of us to “cocoon” behind the wall of technology and just live our own little world. We watch more Netflix. We spend more time on our devices, distant from others.
There is good and bad with this. We HAD to stay away from people with masks and social distancing to stay healthy, right? But, the reality is we humans are social creatures. People need to be with other people to be healthy. So, which way is better? Should we stay apart to remain healthy or should we get together to be healthy? The answer is…. Yes! We need to do both!
It’s not surprising that in this season of isolation, clinical depression has increased dramatically! Anxiety and other mental conditions are becoming more amplified during the pandemic. People are stressed about many things: fear of getting sick, grief over loss, financial concerns AND separation from others! COVID is not the only disease sweeping the nation. There is also a disease of loneliness. Of course, we all need some “alone time” now and then, but the reality is that God created humans to be in community. When we find ourselves spending too much time in isolation, then we can become unhealthy.
But isolation from friends and family is not our biggest worry. Our separation from God leads to a condition far worse that anxiety or depression. Our separation from God leads to death. In a fundamental way our isolation from God is the result of our sin. The ultimate consequence of this separation from God is eternal death! Why? Because God is our source of life and as we distance ourselves from God through our sin, we are separating ourselves from our source of life!
In John chapter 5 Jesus uses the image of the vine to highlight the life-giving nature of being connected to the vine. Jesus told His friends, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Just as the grape needs the nutrients that are provided by the vine, we need the life-giving nutrition of the love of our Savior Jesus! Unfortunately, in our sinfulness, we became disconnected to our source of life! The Good News is that God Sent His Son Jesus to reconnect us back to His love.
Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we have been grafted back into the life giving vine of Jesus’ love. In our baptism we have been reconnected to Jesus and made a branch of the Vine by the power of the Spirit. We stay connected to Jesus, our Vine, by hearing the preaching of God’s Word and by receiving Absolution and the Lord’s Supper. This is how our life in Christ grows: by the power of the Spirit working in our hearts through Word and Sacraments.
In our baptism we become reconnected to God’s love! We are no longer separated. We are connected to Jesus and now have the joy to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) so that others would know of Jesus’ love!
Abiding in the Vine of Jesus,