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Engage in the beauty of relationships

Almost all of us are experiencing the difficulty of staying away from our family and friends in the current season of social distancing.  Most of us probably know some who have been practicing social distancing for years and are thriving in this current environment!  In either situation, it is clear how easy it is to take human connection and gatherings for granted.

When I was young, the doorbell was a welcome sound, excited for who might be waiting on the other side.  There was joy in someone coming by to see us, drop off a pie or even the pastor making a friendly call.  Today, most of us have doorbell cameras that announce a person before they even ring, and allow us to speak to someone through a phone app.  We tend to freeze if the doorbell is sounded, “we are not expecting anyone, we do not have a package coming today!”

I enjoy listening to classic radio shows.  One of my favorites is called “Fibber McGee and Molly.”  The basis of the show is the numerous characters that just “stop by” and ring the doorbell at the McGee house.  They never answer the door, they just tell whoever it is to “come in!” In this show, this couple is expecting visitors and enjoys the different personalities, banter and fellowship brought by whoever comes through the door.  This particular radio show is a honest picture of how life used to be, but also an example of what life can be for us if we intentionally become more focused on “in person” interaction after this situation is over.

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

It is clear the fabric of human togetherness is possible both in persona and separated.  It is also clear the foundation of our relationships must be based on the Holy Love of God and cultivated within the aspect of Christian connectedness.  People who are compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient can engage in relationships without being constantly offended and in a spirit of grace that is necessary for relationships to thrive.  Forgiveness is not only a good idea, it is the “Law of Love” produced for us by the Cross of Christ and commanded to us as believers in the victory of the cross.

If this season has articulated anything, it is the reminded that life is precious, sweet and temporary.

The truth that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow became even more real to myself and my congregation this week in the sudden passing of a true servant and man of God named Larry.  In our time in Orange, Larry had become one of my best friends and continued to be the picture of humility and service in the vision of loving up, loving in and loving out as he served the Lord and his church.  This man was in so many ways the example and picture of the passage I mentioned above.  His legacy of Christian love and service will continue to exist in our church, but we deeply grieve his passing and send our love, support and prayers to his family during these days of sadness.  Thank you, Larry, for being a great friend, encourager, example and testimony of the Cross as you demonstrated the “Law of Love!”

As we finish this week:  Do not take life for granted.  Do not take others for granted, and do not waste the value of life by refusing to engage in the beauty of love and relationships that have been made possible by the Victory of Jesus and the Hope of Eternity!  Life is so precious that Jesus gave His life so we could know what life was meant to be.

That is Good News!

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.