Greetings, Visitors and New Beginnings Family!
If you choose, pour yourself a cup of coffee, then pull up a chair for the latest edition of “Coffee with Gary” entitled “Spiritual Lessons in the Era of COVID.”
Fellow saints of New Beginnings Alliance Church and visitors, please join me as I chronicle a segment of my spiritual journey beginning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
A little more than a year ago, New Beginnings Alliance Church suspended their in-person Sunday worship service due to COVID-19. Even at that time, I recall myself already missing the assembling of myself with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
To fill this sudden void in our spiritual lives, my wife and I started watching a worship service originating at a large church near our home via a live video feed. The worship music was uplifting, and the preaching ministered to our hearts. During those challenging times, my wife and I thanked God for the technology that made it possible to satisfy our heart’s yearnings.
As the pandemic progressed into summer, plans were made to start masked and socially distanced worship services at our home church. Before we were to open in July, however, new COVID-19 infections suddenly spiked, and those plans were shelved.
As Fall 2020 approached, plans for a hybrid ZOOM/in-person worship service were made to allow New Beginnings Alliance Church to resume worship services. Those from our congregation who either didn’t own or had inadequate computers could come to church for in-person worship. Everyone else joined the service from home via ZOOM video conferencing. However, in-person attendance was limited to ten people by governmental decree. What a joy it was for us to both see and worship God with people we haven’t seen in months!
At that time, my wife and I fully intended to continue watching the recordings of the other worship service, but eventually discontinued. Instead, we found our hearts spiritually satisfied by worshipping God alongside the people we know and love. In a manner of speaking, we understood that New Beginnings Alliance Church is our church!
Last month a personal friend of ours was invited to deliver the morning message. Desirous to see our friend and his wife, we decided to attend the morning worship service in person. As we were driving home after the service, my wife commented on how blessed she felt to go to church in person! As I thought about her comment, I knew that we were created for in-person fellowship: in-person fellowship with God, and in-person fellowship with one another. Long-term usage of ZOOM can never fully meet our need for in-person fellowship with one another. Next month, our hope is that New Beginnings Alliance Church will once again be open for Sunday worship, albeit masked and socially distanced.
This brings me to the spiritual lessons I learned in the “Era of COVID.” The first is based on a promise Jesus made before ascending to heaven (Matthew 28:20). Written for us there is Jesus’s promise that he will always be with us, even unto the very end of the age. Throughout the “Era of COVID,” this promise has been very comforting. While I have had to be socially distanced from other believers, I have never, in any manner, been distanced from Jesus! Through all this, Jesus has been a friend that is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Notwithstanding COVID, and perhaps because of COVID, I have sensed Jesus nearer to me than I might have otherwise noticed.
The second lesson is based on Hebrews 10:24-25. In the previous paragraphs of this blog, I have chronicled my recent spiritual journey, beginning with the abrupt suspension of worship services and the gradual steps back to restoration of fellowship. Because of the lessons I learned, I am thankful for every stage of this journey. However, I found that every step I took only briefly satisfied my soul. At every stop, I soon yearned for the next level. Now I find myself thinking that May cannot come soon enough, when we can return to full, in-person worship services.
Finally, have you ever wondered why so many passages in the Bible about fellowship are written as though they are commands? It must be that physically assembling ourselves together is so vital to our faith that God has commanded us to do so. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much as to not leave something so essential to our salvation to chance.
Your fellow pilgrim, looking for a country of our own (Hebrews 11:13-16),