"Greet one another with a holy kiss" – Romans 16:16
I violated our governor's order on social distancing this past week. Indeed, I violated it not once, but twice.
Lenny Torres and I go way back…back to the late 90s when his wife was killed in a car accident. Lenny and his wife had begun attending LEFC (in Lititz) where I was pastoring and though I had not come to know them before the accident, once the accident occurred I came to know Lenny fairly well. Lenny had been driving the car at the time that he was taking his wife to work and hit the patch of ice that resulted in the car going off the road. Lenny suffered severe injuries – to the point that he was not even conscious when his wife's funeral took place. His road to recovery was a long one due to terrible bone fractures. Eventually Lenny recovered to the point that he could walk and with that he made plans to return to his native Puerto Rico.
Now, these many years later, Lenny is back in Lancaster County. He is currently going through a 10-month Christian rehabilitation program at the Revelations of Freedom center in Blue Ball. Once that is finished he is eager to get back to work and to become an integral part of Burning Hearts Community Church. Lenny and I are both looking forward to that day.
This past Tuesday morning, Lenny was informed that his mother quite suddenly died. She had been living in Brooklyn. A sister who lives in the New York City area has become more involved in the funeral arrangements. Due to the coronavirus situation, a regular funeral may not be possible. Added to that is Lenny's own situation at Revelations of Freedom – a situation that is pretty much locked down. Ordinarily no one would be allowed entrance but due to the situation, I was allowed, as his pastor, to come into the building and visit with him. And with that I shook his hand and gave him hug. The second hug was when I left.
Peter and John's response to the Sanhedrin's order that they not mention the name of Jesus anymore (Acts 4) was that they had to obey God rather than man. That is the situation I found myself in: not desiring to violate our governor's order, but believing that with no family around, and no access to the outside world, what Lenny needed was a warm handshake and a hug. And so my violation.
I have no doubt that every one of these orders (regarding social distancing, cessation from work for non-essential businesses, self-quarantining, and so forth) has been made out of the best of intentions. But sometimes there are things that trump best intentions: things like love, mercy and common sense.
And when your mother dies, another's best intentions tend to matter very little.