Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a

These are difficult days for sure. We feel the loneliness of separation, and the inability to touch others. We are warned to keep our distance and not even to hug those we love the most, especially if they’re old and frail.

What a terrible punishment, we moan, to be kept from each other. Maybe you recall being “banished” to your room for hitting your brother when you were a child. I do, and it wasn’t very effective. In fact, it was fun, because I could amuse myself with my toys and my books!

But banishment is no fun, and is one of the most serious forms of punishment known to humankind. Indigenous people have long used forced separation as a means to control wrong-doing. Columbus was amazed to discover there were no prisons in the New World he encountered. People were simply “banished” from their tribe.

Formal exile is an extreme means of social control. In fact, according to the Bible, it all started when God “banished” Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for their act of disobedience.

The amazing thing about God’s saving grace, is that we need only to close our eyes to end our isolation. You are never alone if you pray to the LORD. You don’t have to wait another moment!”

O God, our Creator, who is steadfast in all situations, we look to you, once again, for comfort and guidance. We pray in the name of Jesus, that you keep us safe, give us hope, and make us strong! Amen.