In The Flesh & Face to Face

Cameron Hyslop   -  

The last 4 months has seen more online communication and use of technology than any of us could have predicted at the start of the year. The conversations we have with others have been less and less over the back fence and more and more on the screen or the phone.

Lockdown has prevented us from having in the flesh and face to face interactions. Thankfully, we live in a time when we have still been able to interact and live our lives. We’ve been able to use technology to do the shopping, attend the event, watch the weekly encouragement video, write the email, binge the series, continue our education, watch the sport, have Bible study, Zoom the missionary, submit the assignment, continue the youth ministry, partake in the chat, do the exam, organise the banking, borrow the e-book, download the movie, order the dinner, etc, etc.

The young among us don’t know a world without this technology and have adapted better than those of us who have a few more laps around the calendar. Some of us are exhausted from the large amount of screen time and have been finding it harder and harder to keep connecting. Online fatigue has set in and the lifting of restrictions can’t come soon enough.

Don’t get me wrong, technology has been a blessing and we have done well to embrace that which is good about being able to communicate with people and the world beyond our front doors. However, we are made for relationships and so, while screens have brought us together, they have also kept us apart.

The start of July saw the further lifting of restrictions with young people no longer required to stay 1.5m apart and church gatherings no longer limited to 50 people. The youth groups were therefore able to gather in the flesh and face to face on the church lawn last Friday night and also for small groups on Sunday. Many in our church have begun gathering in homes and at the church for encouragement video watch parties and we now have a date when our church gatherings will recommence at the Shire Christian School. There is light ahead for those who have struggled with the isolation.

As I think ahead to our church gatherings, I’m mindful that Psalm 19 celebrates the revelation of God in creation and through His word, but John 1:14 also tells us that God showed up. He revealed Himself in the flesh, and lived among us face to face.

He could have just continued to send messages through the prophets, and these were certainly important in the ongoing relationship with His people. However, God has communicated with us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1).

Turning up certainly wasn’t easy for Jesus. It would come at great cost. However, He didn’t pitch his tent among us for his own sake. He entered our world in order to serve and to give His life. He did this so that we could be released from the restrictions of sin that had separated us from our creator (Mark 10:45).

Now, I know that gathering in the flesh and face to face will come at cost for those of us who have become accustomed to watching church in the warmth of our homes. We’ll need to get dressed. We’ll need to plan our day in order to allow for the extra 20 minute drive both to and from Barden Ridge. We’ll need to interact with people we haven’t seen for months. We’ll need to follow safe practices and we won’t be able to sing. These are small costs though and certainly outweighed by the encouragement that will be gained from seeing and speaking with each other in the flesh and face to face.

Sadly, there will be some people for whom re-gathering will not yet be possible and we will be doing what we can to continue caring for you if that’s the case. The encouragement video will continue to be available to watch and pastoral contact will be made wherever possible.

The vast majority of us though, do have the option to meet. We could choose to sit in our lounge chair and continue watching the encouragement video. However, that wouldn’t enable us to encourage anyone face to face and in the flesh. So, if you are well and able, I want to urge you to please make every effort to join us on the weekend of 25th/26th July when we re-gather as church.

We are the body of Christ. Let’s turn up like Jesus did – in the flesh and face to face.