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Category: Relationships / Topics: Civility Communication Contemplation, Insight COVID-19 Easter Faith Love Relationships

Zooming in On Someone Else

by George Garrison

Posted: April 1, 2021

A Maundy Thursday look at what the pandemic has done to the way we focus our lives…



forbes.com

Pastor George Garrison continues his occasional series, "Thursday Thoughts," on topics prompted by the American struggle with COVID-19, racial inequality, and a presidential election in a deeply divided nation. This piece was distributed under the banner "Maundy Thursday Thoughts," this being Maundy Thursday on the Christian calendar for Holy Week.

Recent research indicates that the negative self-image and feelings of depression many are experiencing now can be traced to literally not getting away from ourselves. Remember how meetings and interactions in general once involved solely looking at the people we were engaged with? Remember when we used the word zoom almost exclusively as a sound effect in a sentence? Because of Zoom (or whatever online meeting platform we use) we never get a break from looking at ourselves, and the effects are not good for us. 

Consider the words found in James 1: 23-24: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” Regardless of how James uses the analogy here (with regard to obedience), we’re perhaps at a new point in history where the second part of his analogy is less applicable (temporarily of course). Most of us would love to be able to walk away from a mirror and forget what we look like without the constant reminders courtesy of our computer screen!

Online meetings are simply part of  many aspects of a pandemic that has promoted and perpetuated self-focus to an unhealthy degree. It’s been hard to navigate the pandemic without thinking about the self-implications; and the prospects of coming out of it are not exactly free from self-implications as well. Even those of us who spend a majority of our time focusing on the needs of our family or others cannot do so without taking inventory of the effects back on us. We need the observances of Holy Week perhaps like never before. And we especially need Maundy Thursday.

The name for today’s observance is based on the shortened Latin word maundy for commandment, taken from Jesus’ words in John 21:34: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Since more than 2,000 years have passed, the commandment of Jesus is no longer “new,” but perhaps there is a new sense of urgency in heeding it for such a time as this.

Volumes have been written with regard to just how this command of Jesus was new for His followers. But the striking aspect of His love that delivers us from the trappings of pandemic self-obsession is how His love was others-oriented. During His public ministry Jesus loved others unconditionally and with no regard to what it meant for Him personally. In fact, His disciples were frequently frustrated by His lack of self-care or preservation.  And what made His commandment “new” was the fact that it was not a dissertation of love with His words, but a demonstration of love with His life. 

“Love one another, as I have loved you.” Isn’t it amazing that loving in such a way not only changes the world, it changes us. It’s exactly what we need to pull us out of all the negative trappings of zooming in on ourselves. As we focus on Christ and His love for His followers this Maundy Thursday, may Jesus’ new commandment have new and renewing implications for us this Easter Season- especially this Easter Season.

Celebrating the power of the cross and empty tomb with all of you, 

Pastor George



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George Garrison is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois.

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Posted: April 1, 2021

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