As I watched the almost empty streets and listened to the quiet of what used to be a bustling
neighborhood, I was reminded of the first church I served as a solo pastor. Zion United
Methodist Church sat on a hill overlooking fields of corn. Cattle roamed the nearby pastures,
occasionally letting out a bellow to let you know there were still around. Buying clothes or
getting groceries required a twelve-mile trip to Cape Girardeau. If you forgot something at
the store, you did without.
Since most of the congregation were farmers working on land passed down through the generations, we were blessed to have a multi-generational church family. Four generations might be gathered in our sanctuary on any given Sunday. This put me in contact with peoplewho had memories of a life I had never experienced. Due to the gravel roads, the trip to Cape Girardeau started early in the morning and ended late in the evening. Everybody worked from home. The chores were right outside the kitchen door. All the food was organic and locally sourced. All that was required to get this food was back breaking labor in the hot sun. All week long, people kept their social distance. It could be more than six feet, more like six miles. Entertainment consisted of what could be imagined and was carried out within the family. The only group gatherings were on Sunday at church. As I looked out my window, and was invaded by these memories, I could not help but conclude that I was living a little more like those farmers had many years ago.
We will gather remotely on Sunday. God is still present. Maybe in the newly quiet surroundings, we will be more likely to hear His voice. Tune in Sunday. To get ready, meditate on this Scripture:
Acts 1:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Your true friend,