Staff Blogger: Rev. Dr. Charlie Yoost, Director of Religious Life, Lakeside Chautauqua

When the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C., they took as prisoners most of the inhabitants of the city. These unfortunate folks were exiled to Babylon where they were forced to live for several years.

Because one of the Jewish traditions was to travel to Jerusalem to the Temple to celebrate the high holy days, the exile created considerable challenges for the practice of traditional faith. “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” the Psalmist asked (Psalm 137:4), echoing the sentiment of the faithful.

For those of us quarantined because of the threat of Coronavirus, we’re discovering that we’re also up against considerable challenges. Passover, traditionally shared in Jewish homes, cannot be celebrated in large family gatherings this year. For Christians, what will our Palm Sunday and Easter celebrations be like when we cannot smell the fresh flowers on the altar and hear the musicians up close and personal?  What will it be like not to be part of a full church singing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today?”

It seems to me that there are three ways to cope with the current crisis. (1)  We can become angry and withdrawn and focus only on ourselves and our own self-preservation. (2) We can lash out at anyone we can find who is to “blame” for our current circumstances, including being angry with God. (3) We can find new ways to practice our faith and hopefully provide a word of encouragement to lighten the load of others, and in so doing, make life better for ourselves as well.

What does it mean to be a loving relative, good neighbor and a trusted friend during these days of quarantine and ‘Stay at Home’ orders? Social distancing doesn’t mean isolation or unconcern. We can pick up the phone and connect or re-connect with others – even those we do not know well.

Let’s resolve today to reach out to at least one relative, neighbor or friend every day this week. And let us also take the time to intentionally thank at least one person who is working so hard to keep us safe.

Yes, we can sing the Lord’s song, even in this pandemic!