In Acts 2, we are given this description of the early church: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Acts 2:42-44,46-47) And in Acts 4:32, we read: All the believers were one in heart and mind. The early Christians understood there was a dependency on one other that created a powerful bond of love and unity in the church. Sharing life together was not an option, but a necessity for survival.
But how do you do life together in the midst of a pandemic, when physical-distancing and restrictions are designed to keep us apart for our own safety? I have missed the face-to-face interaction that has been an essential part of who we are at Valley, but I have been blessed as we have found ways to stay connected.
I think of the number of times people have shared what’s happening in their lives as we talked on the phone, texted or emailed, and the times we have prayed ‘together’ even though we can’t be physically together. I have been blessed in the past few days to have had such interactions; it is a blessing to pastor a people who want to share what is happening in their lives.
Those times have been a rich part of this past year. While there have been some ‘safe’ gatherings/ meetings, we have also had physical-distanced visits and Zoom calls and video connections to stay in touch. Earlier this week, I had the joy and privilege of sharing in an online ordination and I participated in an online chapel service. We had gone ‘old school, with cards and notes and long-distance phone calls, all a means to doing life together.
As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, as we do our part to keep one another safe, and seek to find ways to stay connected, I want to thank you for being the church to me and encourage you to keep doing what you have been doing to minister to one another. Let us continue to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)