As I look at the calendar, I see that we have had a whole month apart from each other. Phone calls, video conferences, text messages, and emails have not filled the need inside of us for meeting face to face, sharing smiles and hugs. Though there are efforts underway to restore much daily activity with stores reopening and restaurants providing limited seating for meals, many churches remain closed to protect the health of their congregations. The churches in the Holston Conference will remain closed for all group activity until our Bishop and District Superintendents determine it to be safe to reopen. In the meantime, we will continue to fellowship through the portals that are open to us.
So, of the changes that we have made to how we live, what will we hold on to as we move forward from this time? For one, I believe we will all be a little more conscious of our habits regarding good hygiene. I also believe we will cherish the time we get to spend with those we love more. With no meetings to attend, evenings have become an opportunity to sit with Lyndie and enjoy just being together. Getting to spend time together never grows old and our forced separations at church in the name of social distancing have given us plenty of time at home to focus on each other. I believe I want to hold on to that.
The lack of meetings has also taught me that we do a real good job of communication using the tools that we have adopted during this time. Maybe we want to take time to honestly determine which meetings should remain face to face and which ones can continue to meet over the internet.
I particularly like the efforts we have made to share beauty, joy, laughter, and love through weekly emails. Through these emails we have been able to see a bit more of the lives of our members. Pictures of gardens, walking/hiking trails, pets, families, special trips, and poetry have opened us up to some of the beauty around us that we too often take for granted. Can we expand the reach of these to encourage others by their presence on our website or Facebook page?
Posting recordings of our abbreviated worship services on Youtube and Facebook has enabled us to participate when we cannot be together. An unexpected benefit has been that some of our members who are unable to attend on Sunday mornings have been able to feel included in our times for prayer, singing, scripture reading, and the sermon. We are also able to expand our reach to members who have moved away. Some are taking these worship services and passing them on to others. We are reaching more people through these online resources than we were having in Sunday worship. One way or another, we will continue to post our worship services so that our outreach may grow.
Our forced separation has also taught us a very important lesson: we should never take for granted any opportunity to tell each other how much we love them. Our journey through separation has taught us that we do not know what each day will hold. Our response should always be to take joy in every opportunity we have to share the love God has placed in us with those whom God places in our paths.
We will be gathering together soon and at that time, I hope we will take time to evaluate the changes we have undergone to see which ones have been valuable for us, and which ones we do not want to keep. We should always be open to learning new things just as we should remember the lessons we have received throughout our lives. “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52). In this way, we will honor and bless God for walking with us through these days.
In the love of Jesus,
Pastor Braxton ><>