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Before the pandemic, it was easy for churchgoers to skip church if you didn’t have to be there. You could always go next Sunday. But now we can’t physically gather as the church. It’s been interesting to see how much we miss each other.

Last Sunday, after our livestream worship service, we put a picture of our church foyer up on the screen. We continued to stream this image live for about 20 minutes so that people watching the service could continue to chat. It was amazing. People made general comments of thanks or greeting. They looked forward to the day we can see each other again. Even though they couldn’t be present together at that moment, connecting through chat was at least something.

Yet there is nothing like actually meeting together with other humans. I’ve heard over the last few days about people missing the camaraderie of the office; or people not realizing how much they miss the weekly hug they got from a friend; or students missing that gathering and connecting with their friends.

When life is “normal” and busy, we can take human contact for granted. This has gone on for thousands of years. Consider Hebrews 10:24-25 from the New Testament:
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

The author wrote this passage in the 1st century! The church was no more than a few decades old. Yet already, people got in the habit of “neglecting to meet together.” Look at what we gain when we meet together. Others can stir us up to love and good works. When we meet with others, we’re reminded of our love for them and the need others have for love. We discover others who need help and good works we might do to assist them. We also gain courage for life when we meet together. Encouragement literally means to “put courage into” another. Meeting together can bring such blessing.

But you might say, “this only makes my current situation worse. It only makes my isolation more pronounced because you’ve reminded me of what I’m missing.” Well, though we can’t physically meet together, it is still possible to connect via phone, online or at a distance in some open area. Though nothing can replace actual physical meeting, these second best options are better than no connection at all.

There’s nothing like hearing another person’s voice. I love the first moments of connection in an online meeting where I get to wave to a person just joining. I get a little glimpse into their life, space and circumstances. God created us to be in relationship with Him and others. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” So though we still can’t physically meet together like we used to, let’s at least not neglect meeting together in these other ways.

And if you are in need of encouragement, please reach out and give someone else the opportunity to encourage and lift you up. Your reaching out may stir up their love and good works for you.

“Thank you Lord for relationships. Thank you Jesus that you cared so much about relationship that you became one of us. Though some relationships are hard, we can still find some where we can gain encouragement, love and the motivation to good works. Please empower us to make that call or connection with others today.”

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