On Sunday We Go to Church.

March 20, 2020

“On Sunday We Go To Church Together”

That’s the title of a poem written in the 25th anniversary book of Rocky First CRC in 1975.  Someone placed this book into my mailbox last Sunday at church and as I was flipping through it the other day, I was struck by its title.  The poem tells the story of the early days of our church and each of the poem’s 7 stanzas ends with a variation of the title, stressing that no matter what was going on in their lives, “On Sundays, they went to church together.”  Obviously, this week, we are not going to church together and it feels wrong.  Even more so when the reality settles in that this could be for a while. 

We are all well aware of the many changes this week has brought as our government has taken serious measures to limit the spread of this virus.  And those measures are affecting all of us in various ways.  If you’re like me, you’ve watched a lot of news in the last week.  News of restrictions, news of projections, news of people’s reactions to this new reality.  It’s not hard to see that for many, this has produced a lot of fear.  Some afraid of getting sick and the implications of this virus on themselves or their loved ones.  Others more afraid of how all the shut downs and cancellations are going to affect their family and their livelihood.  Will they be able to make ends meet or will this be the final straw after a few years of tough economic times. Others are afraid of how long this will last and whether or not even more serious restrictions will be imposed on us. 

I want to acknowledge that those fears are valid, but I also want to remind us of the many times that God’s Word tells us, “Do Not Be Afraid!” He says those words to Abraham in Gen 15 when he questioned God’s promise of an heir.  He said those words to Moses as he went to speak to Pharaoh, He spoke them to Joshua as he led God’s people forward into the promised land.  He spoke them to His people through the prophets and kings again and again.  He spoke them through Jesus and the apostles…and He speaks them to us today as well.  “Do not be afraid.”  This might last a while.  But God is still on the throne.  Covid-19 has not caught Him by surprise.  I think of the story of Peter walking on water to Jesus on the stormy sea.  As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he could walk.  But when he looked away, and put his focus on the storm, he began to sink.  Let’s be sure to keep our eyes on Jesus even as we wash our hands and make wise decisions about limiting our social interactions.

We may not be able to go to church together, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the church.  The church has never been a building or simply what usually happens on Sunday mornings.   The church is the people who make up the body of Christ.  In a very real way, the challenge for us over these next weeks, is to be intentional about being the church for one another, even if it looks different.  Think of those around you who might be isolated.  Both in the church and in our community.  Call them, send them a card, hold them up in prayer.  Let them know they matter and are not forgotten.  Ask if there are practical ways you can help them.  This is an opportunity for us to love our neighbours in tangible ways. 

Most of us suddenly find ourselves with a bit more time on our hands.  It feels like everything has been cancelled.  My prayer is that we will use this time well.  May we not just lose ourselves in TV or the news, but may we be intentional about spending time together.  Pray that the relationships we have with those closest to us would grow deeper, even though there will likely be some stressful times too.  May we find creative ways to be the church with our families. Let’s read God’s Word and spend time in prayer.  Let’s pray that God would draw us closer to Him. 

Over these next weeks, I pray that we would realize in a new way, what a gift it is to be able to gather as a church.  I know that’s a gift I have often taken for granted.   I already look forward to the next time we can come together, and I anticipate we will do so with a renewed sense of joy…and a new realization and appreciation of the gift of community.   

In the meantime, may the LORD bless you and keep you.  May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  May He turn His face toward you and give you His peace, both now and always.  And may all of us together say, “Amen!”