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I’m a retired senior. Friday, I received an email from our pastor saying that, for now, we would not be holding services at the church building but would receive our Sunday message online. We had already abandoned first handshakes, then elbow bumps and hugs.
I’m guessing that many worshippers of many faiths are facing the same withdrawal from community. The significance of a pastor’s personal touch was driven home to me when I was a young man. Our pastor retired and I filled the pulpit for a couple of years after that. Our tiny congregation was very supportive of my messages but I noticed that in times of personal trial people were calling Joe instead of myself. I asked about that and they told me, “When Joe is with me, I just feel loved.”
I don’t go to church just to hear the message. Great speakers are readily available online. Actually, the message, as solid as Michelle’s sermons are, is one of the least important reasons I go. I go to experience worship in community. I go to hear Greg play the piano and chat with him about music after the service. Before the service, Michelle walks through the sanctuary with personal greetings for each of us. I go for the “passing of the peace” with other parishioners. I sing hymns every day at home, but I go because there is something special about hearing other voices join with mine in songs of worship. I go for the pastor’s hug at the door.
So, the dream I had Friday night after reading the email probably isn’t a surprise. I dreamed that I had been in a different town attending church. As I walked out, the pastor took my head in his hands and just smiled at me affectionately.
These are extraordinary times. You are not cut off from your people because you are not loved. Remind yourself that we aren’t gathering precisely because our fellowships love us and have our best interests at heart. May the peace of the Lord be with you.