Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!
2 Corinthians 13:5
I know, I know: this verse is harsh. So you should probably read all of 2 Corinthians 13. These are severe words from Paul. He is not happy with how the church in Corinth has been acting. There have been a few who would sow discontent and doing so by slandering him. I especially like verse 10 which can be translated (VERY loosely) as “I know that when the cat’s away, the mice will play but the cat IS coming back eventually!” (I’m sure my Greek professor from Duke would strangle me if he could get his hands on me right now!)
But maybe we need some harsh words every now and then. We watch the news. We (God help us!) look at social media. What else CAN we do besides play golf? But this quarantine, this social distancing, this staying home, this ‘mask in public’ stuff is getting old. People are getting angry. A great deal of the anger comes from fear…and, folks, that is toxic. Those who are gently advocating peace and patience and restraint are being drowned out by those advocating rebellion and unrest. But I get it. I MISS being able to be with others. I MISS being able to hug and embrace. I MISS going to the gym. I MISS being IN church. All the platitudes about being “spiritually connected” and “one in Christ” are nice…but I miss corporate worship. I was walking the other day and a person I know saw me and beeped the horn and slowed down and I almost RAN to his car. All I wanted was to shake his hand or hug him. Heck, all I wanted was to be able to stand BESIDE him and sing the choir! But I stopped. We talked for a bit. It was great. It was not enough. I get it.
But it must not get us. If we can be patient for a time longer, if we can keep ourselves sane and grounded in love, if we can begin to accept that a new normal is coming to us and work with it instead of rebel against it, we’re going to make it. I have no idea what it will look like in church. Maybe we’ll all be wearing masks and bandanas. Maybe the choir will look like a bunch of outlaws and we’ll stand for the anthem, drop our masks, sing, and put the masks back on! And we’ll have to sing looking straight at Paul so as to not breathe on one another! Paul will be so excited that we’re actually looking at him!
I went to my favorite Subway to get sandwiches. One of the young men who works there is very patient with this old white extroverted guy. I hadn’t been there for months. But I asked him if he and the store were doing OK. He said they were and that other Subways had to be closed because there just wasn’t enough business. But he was OK. And we’ll be OK.
A little while longer, OK?
The second verse to “There is a Balm in Gilead”:
“Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend, and if you look for knowledge he’ll ne’er refuse to lend.”
O God, please, help us to be patient. Please. Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser