From the Pastor…

I learned the verse in the King James English: “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…” (Hebrews 10:25). It was an exhortation used by our pastor when I was growing up to remind us of the importance of consistent attendance at church and participation in all of the programs and ministries laid out in somewhat rigid detail by the Southern Baptist Convention.

In its original biblical context, the verse had some of the same hortatory impulse. Some early Christians may have lapsed back into their pagan habit of irregular worship. Others simply allowed  other distractions to claim their attention on the Lord’s Day. But the writer also sought to encourage those who were simply afraid to gather with their fellow believers. Their new faith was not popular with everyone. They stood in real danger of losing their jobs, possibly even their lives.

I’m not sure how any of us will feel about coming together for worship after such an extended, enforced period of “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” as we have just experienced. Even those of us who have been faithful in utilizing the virtual worship material for private devotions may have gotten out of the habit of joining together with others for a joint celebration of our relationship with God. And it is very likely that some who have never given a thought to anything but Sunday morning church attendance for most of their lives have found out that there are indeed other things that you can do with the time.

And some may indeed be afraid. Despite all of the precautions that we are taking, not everyone will feel safe being exposed to a larger group of people than they have been accustomed to lately, even outdoors. I completely understand that attitude and judge no one who is waiting on a more definite subsiding of the coronavirus before venturing into a crowd.

However, for those who are able and who feel safe in doing so, I hope you will join us for outdoor worship in October. For others who tend to worship in relative anonymity in large arenas, the need to see their fellow believers may not be as great, but for the members of the Parkway family we have been away from each other for too long. We need to check in, to offer encouragement to one another, to express our love and devotion to each other. We need to feel each others’ presence and to know that we are all alright.

All of us pray for the day when we can sit side by side in our sanctuary and I can intone once again, “Let us stand for the worship of God.” For now, we will make do with the circumstances that we have been given. It isn’t like we have to hide out in the catacombs for fear that we might be captured by the authorities and crucified. It is more a “slight momentary affliction” as Paul said, that is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Let’s make the most of this time of pandemic, growing to appreciate even more the privilege and responsibility of worship. Regardless of the form that worship may take, let us engage in it fully and joyfully, knowing that our Creator longs for this time with all the children.