My birthday last Friday was a wonderful day. It was terrific to spend the day with Janet and have dinner with the family, but this year I also noticed something a little different.
I think it may be because we have all been isolated so much during the past year during the Covid pandemic. It was just about a year ago that we started to go into isolation. By early March, it was clear that the virus was spreading and that it would be some time before things would get back to normal.
We all stocked up on masks, limited our engagement with others, stayed home and learned what it meant to live life “socially distant.” Companies such as Door Dash and other home delivery companies exploded with growth and Amazon stock took off as people avoided stores and ordered online from the comfort of their own homes. In fact, sales at home improvement stores also grew as people spent more time and money trying to fix up their homes – after all, they didn’t have to go to the office. Home sales actually increased as people decided their homes were too small! There are all kinds of things that have changed but we are finally getting used to a different way of life.
Certainly, people have experienced some stress as we have all become weary of being separated from one another. And that’s where tonight’s story comes into play. I couldn’t believe the number of people who called, wrote or posted on social media for my birthday. It was many more than usual. Of course, some of these people are dear friends who I speak with every week. In fact, I live life with some of my closest friends.
And then there are those who I periodically stay in touch with and we catch up when our paths cross. Still others are friends who I only get in touch with once or twice a year – on either my birthday or theirs. But there is another group as well. This group includes friends of friends or people who may have needed help at some time during my career – perhaps I helped them get a job or coached them through a particularly difficult situation. I love hearing from them also!
The past several years I have cultivated old friendships from back in grammar school and high school. It has been a very rewarding experience that has brought people back into my life who I never thought I would ever interact with again. The older I get, the more important relationships and friendships have become.
It was like opening special gifts to hear from and connect with so many folks since last Friday. It has been a blessing beyond belief. And let’s face it – I am not an overly popular guy. But I make it a point to make sure that post a note on social media for each and every person who pops up in my feed when their birthday rolls around. I have also made it a habit to send them blessings and encouragement rather than just a “happy birthday” message. What a great opportunity to help someone feel special.
Tonight’s verse is from the apostle John’s third epistle. It’s a rather simple verse that is so appropriate given our current circumstances in 2021. John tells us, in 3 John 14, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.”
How important that we greet one another by name! Even if we can’t get together in person quite yet. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to have friends and people to go through life with. The early church shared and shared alike living as a community of believers. We have lost so much of that through the years. My prayer is that during this time of isolation, we will all make sure that we stay in touch with one another and remember the words of John. People need us to touch them, and we need to have community with others… have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…