I met with some colleagues last week for a Zoom meeting and discovered some of them have still not resumed in-person worship. This means some brothers and sisters-in-Christ have not gathered to worship in more than six months! It broke my heart to hear that. We resumed in-person worship on June 14. We did have to suspend it a couple of times, but we are back at it again as of last Sunday. Now, not everyone feels comfortable enough to attend yet, but that’s okay. There is the option of going online at scchartford.org or Facebook Live for this 12:15 pm devotional “Food for Thought,” “Call to Prayer” on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 4:00 pm, and Bible Study on Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm. So, even if you are not joining in-person, you can still join in other ways, and joining together is important.
I remember after I got saved back in 1989. We began attending a little church around the corner from our house. The average person who attended was old enough to be my grandparent. The music was not contemporary, and our pastor, though I loved her dearly, would never be accused of being a dynamic preacher by any stretch. However, none of that was a deal breaker. I just wanted to be there. I needed to be there. If I missed a Sunday, I honestly felt little off for the rest of the week. I really couldn’t explain why then. I know now it was the presence of the Holy Spirit. Gathering together on Sunday mornings at First Christian Church, fed me, filled me, and the age difference didn’t matter one bit. Those folks became close friends – family. I loved them and they loved me. They encouraged and nurtured me for seven years and were certainly a part of God’s plan to call me into pastoral ministry. Thirty-two years later, I still think about them often. When I left for seminary in Maine, I was blessed to fall in love with another special group of believers at the East Orrington Congregational Church and the feeling was the same. I wanted to be in church every Sunday morning. In fact, even on vacations, I would search for a church nearby the campground so I could go on Sunday morning. I crave worship. I still do, and I count myself blessed as I am now three for three. I have found a third church family to love here in Hartford, CT. I pray the same for you. That you have a church family to love and share life with, and a burning desire to give God glory in song, prayer, and to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to you through the sermon in worship.
For those of you who are not ready to meet in person, or whose church remains closed, I encourage you to take advantage of any online opportunities. For Christians, this quarantine is not permission to sleep in on Sunday mornings or take a break from church. Who would want to take a break from being filled? Being fed. The Bible says in Hebrews 10, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Sure, gathering together looks different right now but I encourage you to continue to do so, in any way you can. Obviously, you are adept with technology or you wouldn’t be listening to me right now. Perhaps some of your family or friends are not, however. Help them. Show them how to use a computer or smartphone. If their church is closed, help them find the internet options their church most likely has available. Or they are more than welcome to join us online here at South Church for a season.
We are greatly blessed to live at a time when modern technology makes it possible to not neglect meeting together as some people do. At some point, we will all be together again. I cannot wait to see you all! Until then, welcome to the virtual church family of South Church. It’s great to have you here. Let’s motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Just some food for thought. Enjoy the rest of your lunch break. Remember to send in your praises and prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. We lift them up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 4:00 pm on Facebook Live. Bible Study. See you next Wednesday at 12:15 pm. God bless.