When you're stuck in a bubble that has been created to keep you safe from harm it might seem logical to turn your focus inward. But that would be a mistake.
When you finally emerge from your bubble of safety you could find yourself physically with people and yet still feel alone. To be lonely amidst the energy and noise of community is a very sad thing. So, in the midst of our current pandemic, let us all make our very best effort to strive for togetherness.
Being isolated doesn't have to mean being disconnected. When God made mankind He purposely crafted our need for one another - this is the craving we all have for connection.
It's only when we are in an unhealthy space that we crave isolation and independence. This is a time to knock down virtual or perceived barriers so that we can cope with this crisis through togetherness.
Each of us, as we are able, must make an effort to reach out to others, taking responsibility for maintaining connection with others, being intentional about building community. After all, the make-up of the word community is "common-unity". Seeing as we're all in this together, let's solve the risk of disconnection together by building virtual bridges, by reconciling differences and forging strength where weakness abounds.
In this season of lockdown it is even more apparent that a church is not a building, rather a group of people in common-unity, not restrained by four walls. Our hope is that you might find this for yourself.
What attitude could we embrace to help build togetherness? Some would say love is the perfect bond of unity. Others might use the word charity or compassion.
As is widely demonstrated in history, in times of crisis or suffering mankind has a virtuous response towards others. Let us not be the generation that avoids the human responsibility to love our neighbours with a demonstration of kindness, humility, quiet strength and self- discipline.
The greatest of virtues is love. So, what is love? Love is not simply an emotional response, a feeling that is temporary or a declaration of commitment. Love is an action word.
Easter is a time when we remember how God demonstrated His active love for all people. You may have heard this well-known verse from the Bible. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). This shows us clearly how love is an action word. We hope you find God's love this Easter.
A time of crisis or suffering is not a time to fix blame on unseen or unknown forces. Some have the audacity to deny God while blaming Him for their problems!
History shows us again the positive outcomes from hard times; pain and tension help us to grow stronger. It could be well-argued that togetherness is the mission of God and is why He created us – relationship with Him and with others is the best life we could have. When we invite God into our suffering and hard times, we can experience the bountiful gifts from God for us that He prepares for each person: love, peace, grace and hope.
Remarkably, we can find these gifts in our actions as we reach out to others. As we serve others with a desire to see people reconciled in togetherness, it is then that we find our own blessings. Perhaps there's wisdom in the old adage, "seek first to serve others".
We all find ourselves in this crisis and no-one can escape it. Our message of encouragement is to use what is happening now to create stronger bonds of togetherness for our community. In the midst of our current pandemic let us all make our very best effort to strive for togetherness.
Pastor Phil Strong - Zion Church
Pastor Simon Alexander - Baptist Church
Rev Shelley Walker - Methodist Church
Rev Julie Guest - Anglican Church
Pastors Ariki and Pam Ashford - Reach Church
Father Joe Stack - St Patrick's Catholic Church
Pastor Bradd Trebilco - Bible Chapel
Pastor Bruce Judd - TA Christian Centre
Rev Ron Bennett - Presbyterian Church