Cross over the road, my friend

Cross over the road, my friend

Cross over the road, my friend

by Dave Carter
27th April 2020

Some of you may remember singing a certain song in school assemblies entitled “Would you walk by on the other side?” For those of you that were spared this delight, I give you the first verse:

  Would you walk by on the other side
  When someone called for aid?
  Would you walk by on the other side
  And would you be afraid?
  Cross over the road my friend,
  Ask the lord his strength to lend,
  His compassion has no end –
  Cross over the road.

Just imagine that verse, sung out of tune by 300 children in a hall with bad acoustics. Hopefully you’ll get the picture.

Whilst musically my experience of this song left a lot to be desired, there was a good basic message to it. Drawing essentially from the parable of the good Samaritan, this is a simple hymn that encourages people to stop for others and show compassion.

It strikes me that in these times of social distancing, “cross over the road” has taken on a very different meaning! If you’ve been out for a walk as part of your government-sanctioned exercise you’ll have noticed that people are adopting an incredible zig-zag pattern down the street as they veer from one side to the other, desperately avoiding coming within two metres of anyone else. People are crossing over the road to stay apart, seemingly more like the priest and the Levite than the good Samaritan.

However, it does depend on how you look at it.

People are distancing themselves physically with great compassion and respect. Maintaining distance at this time can be done out of great love, not wanting to put anyone else at risk. Yes, it can also be done due to fear and anxiety, but I believe most people are doing this out of respect for government advice and the desire to protect their neighbours.

Whereas I think that people are reaching out to others in new ways, crossing the road remotely, so to speak.

I’m hearing stories of wonderfully inventive ways that people have found to take time for other people at the moment. From online youth gatherings with silly games, to prayer meetings taking place via Zoom, to people making themselves available for prayer requests or practical help by email. There is a determination to take time for other people that we’re seeing in this season.

Within the wider community, people are offering help in ways we never would have done before. Good news and compassion was always intended to flow out into the world, that’s the nature of the kingdom. Members of Eastgate are volunteering to help with deliveries to the vulnerable, looking out for their neighbours and being generous to those around them.

Yes it’s difficult sometimes, or feels a bit clunky. But everyone is in the same boat, and occasionally you experience something that you feel you’d never get to see if life were “normal.” One example in our house was having a good family friend appear as a guest lecturer during our home-schooling schedule. His presentation on the life and times of Johnny Cash was the kind of unique lesson that is not normally deemed essential primary education, but is the kind of thing my children will remember for a long time.

Within Eastgate there is a chance still to connect with each other, to show love, compassion and also to reach out and ask for help. We all have something to give, just as we all have needs and times when we need support. Connect Groups are running online, prayer requests and offers for practical help are available. Just visit the church online page:

Church Online

Look for opportunities in your own community as well, show the goodness of God wherever you are, be that online, in person or in your home.

Cross over the road, my friend.