Our time apart from one another has made me think a lot about what the church means to us. We have tried to carry on with some of what we do, often in different ways, but we all know life hasn’t been the same these past several weeks. We miss seeing each other face-to-face. We miss the familiar feeling of being together with people we care about. We miss singing and praying together. We miss casual conversations and friendly greetings.
Someday, the social distancing guidelines will relax, and we will begin to feel comfortable being close to other people again. We all want that to happen, as soon as safely possible. When we can all be in same room again, I imagine we will quickly make up for lost time and fall back, mostly, into familiar habits of sharing life together as a church family.
Some things may not go back to “normal,” at least for a while. For example, we should refrain from shaking hands and giving hugs. I know that will be hard for some people, but just as we have been disciplined to stay away from others during this stay-at-home period, we will need to develop new disciplines of respecting one another’s personal space and avoiding unnecessary physical contact.
What we have lost in terms of physical separation, I hope we will more than make up for with other forms of kindness and love. There will be less handshakes and hugs, but maybe more encouraging words, more acts of service and more prayer. Perhaps we will learn to be better at loving one another as we find ways to show our love.
We will certainly have a deeper appreciation for the fellowship we enjoy together. Fellowship is a big, important word in the church. It mean far more than social gatherings or standing around talking after worship. Fellowship stands for our shared purpose, how we join together to become the body of Christ in actions, words, worship and service to the world around us.
Broadway has long been a church that excels at fellowship, at caring for each other, and at sharing life together. This time apart has reminded us just how valuable our fellowship is, and I believe we will come back from this time with even stronger bonds of love and more joyful expressions of friendship.
We may also be learning to better appreciate the spiritual connections we share with one another. Being physically apart does not mean we have lost what truly binds us together. We still share the same faith in the same Savior. “There is one body and one Spirit,” Paul wrote, “just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Soon, we will restore our fellowship. We will gather again in worship. We will embrace each other, if not literally, then in deeper, better ways. Until then, keep reaching out to your church family however you can and keep praying for those in need. Our church will survive this time apart, and the Spirit will hold us together in faith, hope and love.