So many empty seats. I gaze around the sanctuary and feel…lonely.
The elderly, far from being fearful of COVID-19, are defiantly present, ready to worship together again. Young families – desperate, no doubt, for a break from full-time lockdown parenting – are excitedly chatting together in the foyer. But where are my peers? Sipping lattes in their bathrobes in front of the TV live-stream? Thinking that they are not needed? Every generation is crucial to a family. Grandchildren need to see old people worshipping, praying, serving. Parents need parents to walk the little ones to Sunday School classes. Family means every generation is present, being there for one another.
Where are you? How do we win you back?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for "Hope" is Miqveh. It means a gathering together - of wool, water, livestock, people. To gather is to hope; to hope that it matters, eternally, that relationships will triumph over fear and selfishness and anger and apathy. The putting aside of personal comfort, offenses, and opposed opinion to gather together - this is what the Kingdom of God is all about. To give up gathering is to abandon hope.
Where are you? Will you come back?
When Abraham heard that his nephew was taken captive, he mobilized his troops and pursued.
This is a year to pursue and recover those who have been taken captive. Some need to recover their faith, some need to recover their integrity, some need to recover their desire to belong. Others need to recover their affections, their relationships, their confidence, their sanity. And so we pursue them, in prayer and with persistent, loving action.
Pursue and recover.