Dear Anthem, I Miss You.

I have never cancelled a Sunday. Ever. Even when other pastors negotiated the idea on years where Christmas fell on Sunday. Not me. Not happening. Not ever. Or so I thought. Leave it to a global pandemic (COVID-19) to be what it took to get me to stand down. Even that was a fight to the very end.

But now, here I am. Here we are...two Sundays in a row.

And now we stand on the precipice of another with untold numbers to come. As many of you know, I do quite well with distance. As a natural introvert, I relish my summer's away from you to spend time on the road with Jesus and my best friend, Chuckk, exposing my soul with distance and solitude. I enjoy Saturdays on my deck, alone, with a cigar with no one around and nothing but time on my hands.

But this is different. Why? Maybe the book of Hebrews can shed some light on what I'm feeling:

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And 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." -Hebrews 10:23-25

Hebrews was likely written for Jewish Christians who lived in Jerusalem. Its purpose was to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. Or in our case, pestilence. The author, who I believe to be Paul, wanted his audience to do three things:

  1. Trust the Gospel, not the disquiet that surrounds us.
  2. Encourage each other to live and serve in a way consistent with that Gospel.
  3. The aforementioned is only possible if the Church ensures they keep gathering together, even when it may be untenable to do so. 

In other words, neglecting to meet together has adverse affects on our faith, specifically making us vulnerable to the flesh, the world and the persona behind both, the Devil. Now, while all of this may seem elementary in a world where persecution is nominal, the Coronavirus is exposing to us the concerns of Hebrews in real-time. Perhaps, there may be one other reason that gathering together is so important. Paul, again writing in a difficult situation, says this to a church he really loved:

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you...It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace...For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." -Philippians 1:3-8

So what is this little known reason for being together? He loved them. He just simply 'yearned' to be with the people he loved and were co-partakers of grace with him. And the distance between him and them exposed a profound, spiritual connection he had with his Gospel-family.

It's easy for this to be lost on us when we're together all the time. But for me, what this distance is doing to my heart and soul is causing me to "...yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." I thought I would be ok, but the truth is I'm not.

This introvert needs his family; he needs his people; he needs his church. I hold you all in my heart until we're all together again. In short...

Dear Anthem, I miss you.

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