“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:24-25
My friends, being part of a church family is all about loving God and being in community with each other. It's all about sharing our life stories and our individual and communal walks with God. We seem to live in a society that promotes individualism which unfortunately can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. During the peak of the pandemic, the only way we could worship together was through a pre-recorded service that was filmed on Thursday afternoons by the four people permitted to us by the COVID protocols. I remember looking out into the Nave seeing all the empty pews. My heart was extremely heavy. I looked at those pews as your places where we usually gathered. And I wondered when I would get to see you again.
Once we were finally able to gather again around the altar rail, I was deeply moved by all the hands extended to receive the Sacrament of our Lord - the one true meal that unites us and brings us life and wholeness. As I placed the element in your hands, I realized that each set of hands represented a person and a story that I knew and regularly brought before God in prayer. I rejoiced at seeing your hands around the rail and delighted in the joy we had at being together.
God has created us to be in relationship with one another. I like how Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes Christian community not as “an ideal we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” I know for many the last two years have disrupted your rhythms and habits of how we once connected to one another and participated together in our church community. There are still some hands missing from the rail, hands of brothers and sisters that I hold so dear and have walked through the joys and sorrows of life with. I still look for these hands.
I hope this last portion of summer will be a time for all of you to reconnect with your loved ones and of rest and renewal. As these summer days wind down, I invite you to consider the new rhythm you will create for yourselves, your families, and for your brothers and sisters in Christ. My hope and prayer is that I will see your hands extended toward the family table eagerly awaiting the meal of unity, restoration, life, love and hope – and that we will use our hands to hold on to one another in this beautiful part of reality that God has created for us.
Blessings and Peace,