Without question the last few weeks have been poles apart from others in my now lengthy life, and I quite expect that until my last day on earth has come and gone, I will never experience such ones again. Additionally, I am of the strong opinion that you who read here join me in this state of affairs. From east to west and north to south our amazing planet has been affected by COVID-19. We have been turned upside down and shaken to our core as this pandemic has swept through the peoples of the world.
New words, phrases and other concerns envelop us. We practice social distancing, cover our faces with masks, spray our mail with disinfectants, renew our understanding of our constitution, learn of new internet tools, deal with emptied grocery shelves, giggle about toilet paper hoarding, grapple with human rights and with being quarantined–among a myriad other issues.
I will deal with none of these in this post–except at a slant. The quarantine has nixed group gatherings including church services. For weeks now I have not been to church, and I’m missing it dreadfully. Oh, we’ve had live-streaming of preaching and teaching and choir singing and other music. We have watched baptisms in bathtubs and in nearly deserted church sanctuaries. We have paid our tithe and given our offerings over the internet. We have been spiritually stirred, intensified our personal devotions, and have had numerous prayer meetings in our living rooms. Candid discussions have evolved that speak to the positive results of this situation. I believe all that . . .but I want to go back to church.
I want to be with you. I want to shake your hand and hug your neck. I want to see what you’re wearing today and how you’ve styled your hair. I want to open my Bible and follow my pastor as he delivers the Word of God–and as he spouts off those phrases he uses all the time. I want to feel the fidget of the youngsters, observe the flirting lowered eyes of the beautiful young ladies, admire the strength and handsomeness of the young men. I want to pray with you. I want to admire you who struggle with walkers and pain and poverty. I want to hear the choir and the soloists and the keyboard and the drums and read the words on the screen and sing with you. I want to dig in my purse for my dollars and when the pan or the bag is passed, I want to drop it in.
I want to hold your baby.
I want to pray with you. I want to stand by you and weep, and take your hand.
I want to be there–in the church of the living God–as His intense presence moves over the congregation . . .and sometimes we know angels are there . . .and we are silent, not daring to speak. I want to be there when animated joy elicits words of praise that rise from our throats . . .our hands are raised . . .hallelujahs ring. Dance. I want to see you dance in worship, as only you can.
I want to interact with young families and see them pose for pictures after the worship service. I want to go out to eat with you, and plan outings and parties, and tell you how much you mean to me.
I want to have fun and honor you and cherish you.
Yep, I’m done with it. As wonderful as this live-streaming and such has been I’m through with it. As soon as we get the permissive word, on Saturday night I will lay out my clothes and choose my shoes and my purse, and I will set out my little red Bible. On Sunday morning we will not be late, but will rush to our sanctuary, our church, our people. Once again, an exhilarated group now, we will enter into His majestic courts. Our praise will fill the temple.