When you read the letters of the New Testament, one of the emotions that comes through most strongly is that of yearning. In each of his letters, Paul writes of yearning to be together again with the people of those early Christian communities. He hopes to be able to see them again soon, face-to-face. It is an emotion with which we have all become strongly familiar.
Lately, when I’ve been reading the Bible, I have found myself looking beyond the data points of the people, places, and things written about in its pages. It’s not that all these nouns are unimportant, but what has been more powerful for me lately are the verbs that move them. I have instead been focusing on the actions and the emotions of those people, as they move between the places and interact with the things.
The people of Scripture are human beings, just like you and me. (That’s one of the blessed messages of Christmas – even Jesus, God-with-us, is fully human.) Their movements, the actions they take, the decisions they make, the emotions that they feel, are recorded in scripture as a sort-of roadmap or travelogue of people who live lives deeply connected to God. When I can recognize the places where their acts and emotions and struggles mirror those in my own life, I can begin to recognize the ways that God is deeply connecting and working on me.
Which brings me back to yearning. This longing to be able to meet together as people of faith is a holy longing. We see it mirrored in the pages of the Bible. The faithful thing to do in this pandemic is not to ignore science and think that God will magically protect us, but to find God in our long, seemingly indeterminate yearning. I cannot wait to be back together for worship in-person, and that day will come, but not yet. This January our worship and classes at Christ the King will be completely online, and so will our budget meeting and annual meeting at the end of the month.
For now the love that we have for one another must keep us physically apart as we await the rollout of the vaccine. But God is at work in our yearning, connecting us to one another still.
~ Pastor Rory