Lord willing, our church will resume in person worship gatherings this Sunday, June 7th. How we will come back logistically can be found here. My post yesterday and today involve how we will come back spiritually. Yesterday, I prayed that we would Come Back To Worship Wisely and Humbly. Today I pray that we will Come Back Hospitably and Joyfully.
Come Back To Worship Hospitably
A hospitable person is one who selflessly opens his or her home, resources, and life to lovingly meet the needs of others. Hospitable churches have members that desire to live in this way in order to adorn the gospel appropriately. But this way of life has been put on hold (or at least altered) for many during this pandemic. While restrictions have lessened in recent weeks, hospitality remains challenging. Churches must re-evaluate what responsible hospitality looks like during this time. But they might find it is not as difficult as it seems.
Hospitable worshippers engage one another.
Even though many congregations are still adhering to social distancing guidelines as they resume in person worship, we can still be welcoming to one another. A hospitable worshipper will just have to do this in a way that does not involve close proximity or physical touch.
How can the church do this well in this interim period?
To start, we can each choose to intentionally engage in a conversation with someone we might not have previously connected with very much. Make eye contact with them, be fully present even though you cannot touch. Laugh, encourage, pray for, and check on them.
Ask them thoughtful questions like, “What has been most challenging for you during this time?” Above all, be fully present. Truly be there with and for them.
Our church will have a time of fellowship in the main parking lot prior to the service for this very purpose.
Hospitable worshippers respect one another.
As worshippers, we now find ourselves in new situations where we must choose to submit to one another and defer to one another out of respect. A great example from our church came a few weeks ago, where two mothers with their young babies paid visits to several in our church who are at higher risk for getting the virus.
How did they respectfully visit these fellow church members?
Completely of their own initiative, they sought ways to be a blessing. They identified people they thought would enjoy a visit and called them first to see if it was ok that they came with their babies to see them. When they arrived, they wore masks and did not take them off if the at risk person desired they keep it on. They kept their distance, yet they had wonderful times of fellowship. All of this was done out of love, but also out of deference to the needs of the ones they were seeking to love.
Some people coming back to church are not ready for you to give them a hug or be around them for very long. Respect them by loving them the way they need during this time, rather than just assuming everyone should feel the same way as you do.
Come Back To Worship Joyfully
Above all, let’s be characterized by the joy that can only come through the salvation that Jesus offers. There is no greater delight than having your sins forgiven, and enjoying a renewed relationship with God through surrendering your life by faith. Where else would you rather be this Sunday, than joined with other followers of Jesus to remember and reflect on His sinless life, and His sin defeating death and resurrection?
As we sing the gospel, preach the gospel, and renew our commitment to live in light of the gospel, may there be palpable joy.
God, I cannot wait for Sunday!