I am a Christian. I feel that this fact is obvious throughout my posts because I believe firmly and decisively that the Bible sets forth precedents that are relevant not only to how we behave at church but also and more importantly to how we act and think in our everyday lives. Being Christ-like at church is easy. Being Christ-like while you are having a rough Monday is when your character truly grows to be more like Him. I am not, nor will ever claim to be, the perfect Christian. I do strive to genuinely live by the principles I read in Scripture. All that being said, here is what is on my heart today.
Back in March of last year our church went totally virtual for a while, as did so many others. Church immediately transitioned from being a place where our church family gathered and shared stories of how our week was going, worshipped in song, learned from the Bible studies presented by our ministry team, and built up one another’s faith to being a real-life laboratory of trying and adjusting as needed our online set up to properly serve the church’s constituents during a time of unprecedented upheaval. So many improvements were made during that time, the entire face of our sanctuary has changed. We are blessed to be in a part of the country that was able after a time to meet in person again, with allowances in place to comply with the precepts set forth by our local governmental restrictions and be a place that people could feel as comfortable as possible venturing back towards.
I will not lie, there are aspects of life before 2020 that I still grieve their loss daily. It is most evident on our Wednesday night midweek service. We still have not been able to reinstitute running our church van with the circumstances at our local assembly and area, and that is the thing I miss the most. You see, Bret and I had been involved in children’s ministry for a few years back then and running a bus route to pick up kids had been ultimately the part of that role that impacted our lives the most. My hope is that it impacted others some as well, but I know that I will never be the person I was before we had the privilege of meeting those kids, getting to know them, and truly understanding how different lives can be from one house to the next in the same community. My favorite part of church was, after the weekly routine of getting to church early at midweek, preparing for music and class, the bus loaded with kids arrived – usually ten minutes before church started. Our midweek service began with everyone together in the main sanctuary for a couple of songs and some announcements before we separated out into classes geared specifically to smaller groups within our church body. Those ten minutes before service began were my favorite! Some of the kids might argue over who sat by which teacher that night, they would talk to us about what was going on at school or a birthday party they attended or event they had, just sharing their lives with us. It was something I did not truly realize the importance it had in my life until fate stripped it away for a time.
“Not abandoning our meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging each other, and by so much more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 LEB) The King James Version says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”
As I attend midweek these days, I remember those times often. With the addition of the virtual church option, there are many members of our church family that I have not seen since March 15, 2020. Some I have seen only once or twice. We all must make the decisions we deem best for our families and circumstances with all that is going on in our nation and the world, but I contend that church is as safe or safer than most places accepted as required for survival. With the latest developments in blatant censorship of our freedoms, I harbor concerns for the future of livestreaming church worship services at all. What do we do as the church then, when we have become totally dependent on the crutch of virtual church? I understand Hebrews 10:25 to teach us about what to do in exactly this situation. The strength of our church family has been a source of peace for me during this time more than ever before. On a week that is not coming together quite right, I can go to church and feel better. Nothing dramatic must be spoken, just the encouragement of being around others I know drives me to move forward with a more positive outlook. We do not all see things the same as one another. Differences are one of the most beautiful aspects of this life if we allow them to be so.
I miss the building teeming with children, young people, and adults. I miss seeing everyone’s smiles and having those congenial conversations as we settle into our seats, ready to sing together and listen to teaching from God’s Word. I love that, when someone is sick or legitimately unable to attend service in person, we have a way to stay connected to our local church family. Believe it or not, even with being a confirmed NON-hugger, I miss the occasional hug or handshake.
2021 has already proven the craziness of life is not leaving us soon. We can and must make the best of it. As for me and my house, we will attend service as part of our habit of worship. For ourselves, we have reached a point of adamantly recreating a bubble of normalcy for our children. Part of that normalcy bubble is going to the House of God.
If you are part of my church family reading this post, I miss you! I look forward to the day that we can gather again, without anyone feeling nervous or uncomfortable. In the meantime, you can know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. If you do want to come and are uncomfortable, I can assure you on my part and that of my family that your space and preferences of caution will be respected. When I walk into the sanctuary before service tonight, I will look for you – just like I do every time. If you were unable to attend, I will log onto our livestream later tonight to see who attended virtually and know that you were with us that way. I wish you only the best and hope to stay connected in any way that we can.
If you are a part of a different church family reading this post and have been able to resume live gatherings in your area, I can assure you that all the above paragraph is true of someone in your group. If you do not have a church family, I highly recommend it. None of us anywhere are perfect, but the camaraderie of church family is such a morale booster in times of trouble.