The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other.
A popular piece of jewelry, called the Mizpah coin, originated in that ancient Bible verse. We usually recall it sentimentally when we experience separation from people we love. Truth is, it comes from a rather contentious delineation of territory and belongings between Hebrew patriarch, Jacob, and his father-in-law, Laban. Neither of those biblical figures lines up solely on the hero side of the room. In their flawed familiarity, they recognized that absence from one another would not only make them fonder of each other, but would also keep them alive; that is, from killing each other.
Back to today and the good thoughts we attach to that saying. Some of the distance enforced on us by C-19 tears our hearts out. As a pastor at RPC, the fact that I can’t simply get on my bike and visit any number of you counts as the saddest reality with which I (and your other pastors) have to deal. Even worse, I am fully aware that some of you are separated from those you love the most; people who, up until this point in your life, you have poured the best of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. We number among RPC members spouses whose health situations have mandated complete physical separations. I am also aware adult children with older parents—those people who changed your diapers and bandaged your wounds, who cheered you on since T-Ball times, who funded your educations and joyfully picked up the tab for your weddings, who blissfully watched your kids so you and your spouse could gaze into each other’s eyes over a quiet dinner, etc, etc. Now, they must contend with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…on their own. I know of first-line caregivers who presently exist in caves and cubbies for fear of spreading of the devilish killer to those they love. Dad gum breaks my heart!!!
I write this meditation for you. I am stymied and pained because all I can do is to pray for you. Old dog that I am, I will admit that my appreciation for modern connective technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Not so much for myself, but for you in these times and places of separation. I also invite you to call me if you’ve worn out all the other nearer and dearer ears. Let’s face it, we sometimes do. We are human, after all.
Kind of brings me back to Jacob and Laban. We can grab hold of the positive sentiment we so value in that verse, assuring one another that our love for the other runs deep; but never deeper and stronger and truer than that of the Lord who focuses an eagle eye on us in our separation.
Prayer: Covenant God, we pray especially today for those who love and care for each other deeply, many of whom have done so for decades, but who are now physically separated. May they find ways to be together remotely; and assure them that you are watching over and between them in these days. Amen.