To The Point for May 15 2020

A Word about the Word

By Babylon’s streams, 
   there we sat, oh we wept, 
   when we recalled Zion. 
On the poplars there
   we hung up our lyres.  
For there our captors had asked of us words of songs, 
   and our plunderers—rejoicing:
   “Sing us from Zion’s songs!”
 How can we sing a song of the LORD
   on foreign soil? 
Should I forget you, Jerusalem, 
   may my right hand wither.
 May my tongue cleave to my palate
   if I do not recall you,
   if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy!
[Psalm 137:1–6]


Those words were emotionally eked out by a worship leader in the Babylonian captivity. The pain and heartache of trying to live and worship in exile is as clear as the running waters by which he wrote them. 

I have coined this time as our “COVID exile.” The people have been held captive by an invisible virus. In exile, we cannot live or worship or fellowship as we used to. We long for our Lord and our fellowship during this captivity. We make sure we “recall” our God and his Church as we adjust and make connections in new and different ways. 

In Babylon, God’s people didn’t have the temple, yet they were faithful and creative in their remembering the LORD. The prophet Daniel is a great example of this. In New Testament times, the apostle Paul was imprisoned and he very much longed for his friends and churches, so much so that he regularly corresponded with them.

So we, too, in our COVID exile, long for our fellowship with each other and what we share with our God. We miss the Body of Christ, the “where two or three are gathered…” And still, we creatively adapt in a number of ways to stay connected and nourish our souls. On Sunday, May 24, we will creatively and appropriately celebrate Communion in a similar manner as the early, persecuted church did. They practiced “spiritual Communion” as they were in hiding, even away from one another. We will, too.

We make do. And yet, like the psalmist, we honestly lament and reflect, longing for a better time. 

Close to Home in the World as It Is

This Sunday we will examine and discuss the yoke that Christ offers us. Yes, we will literally “discuss” as we try a new way of interacting during the livestream. Jesus calls his yoke “easy” and promises that it will give us our necessary rest. 

On Sunday we will also talk about Trinity’s “re-entry” plan. I cannot tell you how much learning and praying and discussing has been going into the decisions of re-opening our doors. Thanks for your patience and prayers. Here are some wise and timely words from Russell Moore on the topic of churches re-opening their doors (from this article): 

“Some people will want to re-gather immediately and will think their churches are ‘giving in to fear’ if they take longer to re-open than the businesses around them. Some will think that the church is insane for re-opening whenever it does, and will be tempted to say that their leaders don’t care about public health. In almost every case I have seen, though, pastors and leaders in this emergency are exercising wisdom and prudence. They are seeking to do the best they can, to make the best decisions they can. Let’s pray for one another, and impute the best of motives to one another.”
 
This COVID exile time is extending longer than any of us imagined. When we took the break from public worship, we said it would be for three weeks and then we’d evaluate. It seems as if our plane is still in a holding pattern, circling the airport. And just like on our metaphorical plane, I feel that a bit of impatience is setting in and many of our moods are getting somewhat prickly. I can sense it by some emails I am getting, and by general comments I am hearing, and by the hole in my cheek that I am creating instead of giving my first response. Let’s be careful and kind with our words and thoughts.

In one of my first entries of To the Point when this exile began, I charged us not to waste this imposed “Sabbath” from the Lord, but to allow him to use it to make us more like Christ. I mentioned the words of Jeremiah, hoping they would not be true of any of us when it’s all said and done. “The harvest is finished, and the summer is gone,” the people cry, “yet we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20). Am I personally experiencing in this season what God wants me to experience? Am I hearing what he wants me to hear? Am I “being still and knowing that he is God”? Sometimes I wonder.

I piqued some interest with my comments about conspiracy theories last Sunday. Some even said they read the articles that I posted which examine why many Christians are so drawn to believing conspiracy theories and even sharing them as if they were gospel. You can find the articles here. One video that is making the rounds is called “Plandemic,” which accuses Dr. Fauci, pharmaceutical companies, and a slew of others of “planning” the COVID epidemic for their gain. I spoke my peace on the topic last Sunday, so I won’t say any more. But I will point you to a civil and well documented article that interacts with “Plandemic” if you are interested.

Speaking of videos that are making the rounds, I found this one from the UK and totally loved it. Enjoy!

 #CultureNerd

If you are tired of Zoom meetings or not quite sure what all of this Zooming is about, you will get a kick out of this “dogs on zoom.”

Okay, I came across this painting of musicians from the Middle Ages. Prophetic? It sure seems to predict the Beatles. Look, three “guitarists” and even the bass player is left-handed! Just wondering…

And Then There’s This…
Jesus’ words for us…for Sunday…for this exile…forever:

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28–30]

I’ll see you on the other side (virtually).
Pastor Paul