It was Sunday and the day had been unusually quiet. No crowds gathered in the church foyer. Instead we “gathered” in front of our computers or phone screens to watch the live service, via Zoom. The song service echoed and reverberated our voices as though we were shouting our praise over a wide canyon. Church members recognized others with a wave when their faces showed up, not in their pew, but in the little box on the screen.
In the past, our pastors have called our church services Gatherings. But right now, we are not gathering because we are scattered. Everyone is in their own home where we are protected from the worldwide pandemic that only our God could use to stop us ALL in our tracks.
This Sunday morning before our “Scattered Service,” I had read Psalm 60 that described almost to a “T” what we are experiencing right now. My eyes widened at the connection between what David wrote and what is happening today.
O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased;
O turn thyself to us again.
Thou hast scattered us. Indeed we are scattered. Our God has pushed us away from one another as we practice Social distancing, a phrase that would have made no sense to us just a couple of months ago.
No longer together
to give a welcoming hug.
to stop and pray over a burden with our heads bowed closely together.
to meet to pray before the service in a small group huddled in the counseling room.
to extend a welcoming hand to a visitor.
to teach a child a Bible lesson.
to sing from our hearts our praise to God.
to read God’s Word in unison.
to pass the offering plate and lay our gifts inside.
to share in communion together and remember the Lord’s death.
to hear the flipping of the pages of the Bibles of those seated around us.
to see and hear our pastor preach God’s Word with no audio issues to cut off his voice.
to have the blessing of responding at the invitation to go and pray at the altar.
to fellowship together, face to face.
…All because we are scattered.
But why? David went on to say,
Thou hast been displeased.
Is it possible that God has been displeased with the church? Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for it! Is He displeased? Could it be because of…
- Our apathetic attitude towards this gift? “Are we going to church? I’m too tired. I have things I need to do that won’t get done if I go back to church tonight.”
- Our busyness with the cares of this temporal world that has kept us away due to our misplaced priorities? “We have a family dinner this afternoon. We won’t be back tonight.”
- Our misuse of our spiritual gifts that were intended to be used there and have been lying dormant? “Someone else will do that ministry.”
- Our disobedience in being faithful in sharing the Gospel? “That’s what we hired the pastor for. I’m no good at witnessing.”
- The hoarding of our resources instead of trusting God to allow us to give sacrificially? “I can’t afford to tithe!”
- Our criticism of what we like and dislike. “I don’t care for the music. The preaching goes too long. I never did think small groups were in the Bible.”
Oh friends, we have all displeased the Lord at some time with our attitude towards His church – myself included. I’m asking the Lord to forgive me, and as David cried out, O turn thyself to us again, I’m praying that the Lord will be merciful to bring revival to my heart and to my church.
Will you pray the same prayer for yourself and for YOUR church?
What a day it will be when we are able to again have a gathering, rather than being scattered.
Selah. May it be so.