Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:20
I sincerely did not anticipate where we would be today. When the pandemic began, and we closed our beloved building—I had no idea when we would open again, true, but I also did not understand the profound emotion that would come in August. I did not anticipate that come August, we still would not know much more than we did in March.
Our Church Council met this week, and we again as the leadership body reviewed our feelings on the “how’s” and “when’s” of re-opening our building. It was overwhelmingly clear that re-opening is not something we can even consider now, or in the foreseeable future. We will revisit the topic again in September, but we did not make an arbitrary date in mind for our “homecoming.”
Many of you have emailed me stating your support of staying closed and pursuing other means of connecting. Thank you. I also know many of you are feeling lost, it’s soon to be Fall, and the best advice out there is to plan virtual holiday celebrations. These are hard times to be family, to be church.
But my spirit is lifted when I read the words that Jesus said to his disciples—“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Of course, at the time this was first said, the disciples and later the early church could not fathom virtual connections. But now, I cannot fathom ministry without virtual connections. Because truthfully, I feel the presence of the Spirit just as much now, virtually, as I did in person months ago in our sanctuary. I feel the Spirit through prayer time, countless meetings, coffee chats, Knit 1-Prayer 1, classes and more.
And maybe that is one good thing to come from all of this—for the church to realize its not what is inside the building that matters, but what happens outside of the building. Now, more than ever, we have to rely on connecting with one another through mail, phone calls, and more.
I wish I knew when we will re-open again. I wish I knew when I could shake your hand after the service, hug you and cry happy tears. I cannot wait to see the children again, and see what is in the box. And music—I cannot wait to sing.
But until then, remember, whenever 2-3 of us gather in his name—however that may be, we are still CHURCH. We are still Bay Shore. We are still a community that represents Christ to our neighbors. So, beloved, continue living out loud your faith wherever you are, and gather as you are able. Connect with one another. Make a few phones calls. We are church outside of our building! The Spirit of the Lord cannot be limited to a building. The Spirit is everywhere.
I’ll look for you this Sunday.