For the first time in eight weeks, weather allowed me and John to attend church yesterday. Extreme temperatures affect our breathing, as well as causing my muscles to contract more than usual, so we’re pretty much confined to our apartment each winter. Yesterday was unusually warm for a New England January day, so we joyfully took advantage of the opportunity to worship with our church family.
The Lord extends amazing grace to us when weather forces us to stay home on Sundays. Daily devotions as a couple, personal Bible study and prayer, podcasts, YouTube videos, interactions with Christians on Facebook and Twitter and reading other blogs has helped us through the isolation from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Astounding though it may seem, I believe we’ve both grown spiritually during this past two months.
However (and please hear me on this matter), returning to church yesterday reminded us that we desperately need corporate worship. Missing church ought only be done when absolutely unavoidable. Watching a streaming church service may be helpful, but it doesn’t provide the wonderful fellowship of worshiping with people you know and love.
You see, I’ve made investments in people at First Baptist Church Weymouth. I know some of their children, and I know others’ struggles. I’ve prayed for unsaved family members, for God to bring spouses, for pregnancies and graduations. I can look across the Sunday School room and tell when certain people are gearing up to crack a joke. They can all tell when John is gearing up to crack a joke.
More importantly, we can talk deeply about the Lord, reminding each other of sermons we’ve heard together and songs we’ve sung together. His Spirit draws us together through the Word preached to us, and we grow as one body intent on following the Lord. We love Him by demonstrating love toward each other.
The best part of our annual winter exile is returning to church and seeing how profoundly we belong to those dear people. I praise God for the sound Biblical teaching He makes available online, and for my online Christian friends. But, oh Auntie Em, there’s no place like church!