I was so excited to be able to worship live for the last two weeks! Now I know a little bit about what David meant when he said, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Ps. 122:) or “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord” (Ps. 84:2). It has been good to see so many faces (even behind the masks) and to share again in the worship of our glorious God in person. I so long for that day when we can all be back together!
The first Sunday when we sang the first word of the first song—Holy, Holy, Holy—chills went down my spine. To hear voices again after eight weeks in an empty sanctuary was a blessing beyond words. This last Sunday, it was so nice to hear children’s voices. I long to hear them in even greater numbers in the weeks to come. And to be able to take communion together again was also a tremendous blessing. To be able to administer the sacrament brought me joy again as a minister of the Word and Sacrament.
What a great thing it is that we can at least worship together both in the sanctuary and in our homes through live stream. I’m grateful for our sound techs and our live stream people who have done such a wonderful job of keeping everything running smoothly through these last two months. We had to learn quickly, we had to adapt quickly, we had to buy material and equipment quickly but these men have done such a great job in making it possible for us to worship. Be sure to tell them—Parker, Aaron, Dave, Daniel--thank you when you get the chance.
As we have been preaching through 2 Timothy, we have learned the importance of being people of the truth. We need to guard the gospel. We need to retain the standard of sound words. And we need to remind each other that “if we have died with Christ we will live with him. And if we endure we will reign with him. If we deny Him, He will deny us. And even if we are faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself.”
We have seen how important it is to keep the main thing the main thing. And that main thing is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God chose us before the foundation of the world. God sent his perfect son to become a man to live the perfect life to die the perfect death to pay the penalty we deserved and to rise again from the dead. He now sits in heaven and will one day come again in power and glory. That is the message we have. That is the mandate we have. We are to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark16:15). We are to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I (Christ) have commanded you (Mattm28:19-20). Even now, with all of our limitations, we know, “The Word of God is not imprisoned!” (2 Tim 2:9). Keep finding ways to preach the good news in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I know that it is hard right now—boy do I know. I know we have lots of different opinions, ideas, suggestions and beliefs—boy do I know. I know there is frustration, sadness and loneliness—boy do I know. I know there is misunderstanding, confusion and questions about why things are the way they are or not the way we’d like them to be—boy do I know.
And I am truly sorry for all of that.
I can only appeal to each of us to try our best to live according to Philippians 2:4, ‘do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” And, Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” And Romans 13:8-10, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”
I know that is hard. I know I want things to be back to how they were, but waiting is really the norm of the Christian life, not the exception. So, we wait in grace for each other.
Each Sunday it has been nice to hear comments like: “but it’s just so good to be back together” or “it was such a joy to hear people singing again” or “it was a blessing to be able to take communion again”. All of those are expressions of our heart’s deep desire and longing to be with each other. That’s how it is supposed to be. It’s not natural to be worshipping apart from one another. It feels weird to watch it on a computer. But praise God we can at least do that right now. One day we will all be back together.
The separation from each other and the longing it has created in us for fellowship, is a small measure of our greatest heart’s desire which is to be with Jesus in heaven. Our hearts ache for that reunion when we will forever be with Him. More than anything, we desire to part from this world and be in His presence. In a weird sort of way, we can thank God that this pandemic has rekindled that hope and desire for heaven. One day all of the trials and brokenness from the fall will be behind us and we will be in the only perfect place.
Revelation 21 reminds us, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, 4 and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true….22 And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
That’s why John ends the book of Revelation and the Bible with these words, “Maranatha. Come quickly Lord Jesus!” I don’t know about you, but that expresses my heart more and more.
May God let us all get back together soon as we anxiously await His coming again!
I love you all!
More in Pastor's Corner
May 28, 2020Pastor's Corner
May 28, 2020Communion in a Coronavirus World: Why aren’t we doing communion online?
May 22, 2020A Pastor’s Heart: A Theological Approach to Navigating Social Distancing