Did you notice this year that you have been isolated from your faith community? How connected are you to faith in Jesus? Do you even remember what real community feels like?
Isolation was a real challenge this past year. For many of our young people, and even some of the adults, it has been months since they had been in a church or were part of a faith community. This past year has been hard on students and families. Between masks, quarantine, vaccines and questions about what it all means, many of us fell into isolation. Our faith walk was always meant to be done in community. For many of the students on this trip they had fallen away from faith and didn’t even notice
As I walked with students on this trip I was amazed at how many talked about how they had just gone through the motions of faith this past year. They watched worship, they maybe showed up once, but they were too focused on everything else going on. Life got in the way of their faith and its growth. It became so little a part of their life with others they didn’t realize they were missing that faith connection with others.
For many students on this trip realized they were missing real Christian community. For some it meant letting out emotions, pain and broken parts of their lives with others. For others is was sharing Christian community with others. This year really was a time for students to recognize what they were missing.
So how about you? How is your faith going? Are you just watching worship, or are you with other believers. Are you just sitting in the pew or are you actively trying to grow you faith. I believe that if we don’t maintain these relationships they die. I believe that in this time we can get so lost in the news, our world, and everything else, we know we are missing something but we aren’t even sure what we are missing until we happen to stumble upon it again. Today lets actively try to get back to it. Lets go to worship, get involved in a Bible study, find a Christian community to be involved in. This faith thing was not meant to be done in isolation but actively perusing our faith in Jesus together.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So here is a blog post I just couldn’t write. I had to make a video because I felt the words would get lost. This is to everyone who needs to be reminded to come back. I pray this is a blessing and nudge of the Holy Spirit.
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Today I had the opportunity to sit in front of my TV and be a greeter at Church. This isn’t how this is supposed to be. We had some technical difficulties, and the feed was missing sound for the first 10 minutes. This is not how this is supposed to be. I had technical difficulties at home with my TV, and I participated in the service through a 4″ phone. This morning all I thought was, “This isn’t how it is supposed to be.”
During the service, once it got working, I had some friends from Church text me about the tech stuff and sent me thanks for it working. I had nothing to do with fixing it, I just let the team know at Church it wasn’t working. At the end of our conversation, one of them said, “I can’t wait until I can see my Church family again.” I agreed this isn’t how this is supposed to be.
Although there is a lot of good that has come from all this, not the least of which is churches and people sharing Jesus online, I cannot tell you how much I want to be together with people in worship. This is not how it is supposed to be. I look forward to the amazing moment when our community can be together again. It will be a great moment for our people and for me personally. I love people, and I can’t wait to be together again.
I had a thought today; even when we get back together, even when we get together and pull out all the stops and it feels like heaven, it won’t be. This just isn’t how it is supposed to be. You see one day, when this is all over, we will gather all together, in person, in our resurrected body for worship that will last for eternity. It will be beyond amazing, and it will be beyond everything we have ever experienced or seen. We will hug our loved ones and celebrate Jesus like we can’t even imagine. That is the day we see a little here but will see more fully when Jesus comes again.
I pray as we go through these days that we are reminded that this isn’t how it is supposed to be, not just in worship, all of it. Jesus changes everything, and I can’t wait for it to be just as He said it will be.
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?”14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
I love VBS. Now that I have that off my chest… For some people VBS is a painful experience they have to live through. For some youth workers VBS is some of the hardest times of their lives. That is not me. I love VBS. I love those 15 hours of pure joy over five wonderful days. I love the laughter, joy and Jesus we get to share with students for that week. It is some of the best times in the world.
I probably love VBS so much because it taught me something about Jesus that I will never forget and still love today. You see I came from a Church that did VBS over the top awesome. For a Church that worshiped 300 on a Sunday we had well over 550 students at VBS. We packed the place to where we had kids everywhere and adults had to stand because you couldn’t sit is a pew. (Luckily the fire marshal never showed up because I am sure we broke fire code) But seriously, VBS to this day still brings me back to some amazing times in my faith journey and I learned some amazing things about Jesus those weeks.. We are now 20 days from VBS here at St. John and I can’t wait.
I learned one very important thing at VBS growing up that I pray is something I teach kids every year. I learned Loving Jesus is fun. Knowing Jesus is fun. Singing and dancing for Jesus is fun. Jesus brings us joy. Once when I was a teen at VBS serving in music leading I was walking in late to the morning program because I was picking up my friend. When we walked in the kids were singing and the walls were literally shacking. Not the speakers were cranking… The kids were singing so loud you could see the walls shake. To this day I cannot get that image out of my head. I want my kids and all kids to sing so loud for Jesus the walls shake. I want them to know him so much that the joy of His grace spreads to our community and world. I look forward to sharing in the joy of the Lord in a few short weeks. I am almost giddy with excitement.
Today as you walk with Jesus remember the joy we have in Christ. Share that Joy with others. Maybe you aren’t in that season of Joy but I pray you can get there. I pray you can see the walls shaking because the joy of Jesus is being shared….Oh and if you are in Rochester Michigan come join us as we share Jesus with some amazing kids. I promise you will hear a joyful noise!!