Encounter: Slowly read through Hebrews chapter 10:24-25 in The Passion Translation. Is there a word or phrase that speaks to you about this present season of physical distancing, economic challenges and paradigm shifts?
“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.” Hebrews 10:24-25
A recent Facebook post gave me some laughs when a woman shared her struggles due to no longer being able to enjoy retail therapy at TJ Maxx. She said, “if only I would have known that the last time I shopped at TJ Maxx would be my last time for a very long time – I would have bought that sweater, pottery planter and candle that I was really wanting. The humorous part was the dozens of men and women who responded with similar remarks as if grieving the loss of a way of life they could no longer live, though most of their comments were cloaked in a great deal of comedy.
Truth is, we don’t realize we miss something or the value of something until its restricted or we lose it altogether. From being able to visit a loved one in the hospital to birthday celebrations or singing in the choir, we each feel like the TJ shopper, if I would have only known that it was our last time to ________ (fill in the blank). I would have paid more attention, invested more, relished the moment and cherished those in it.
This week Megan shared with me that she has noticed that with the pandemic, people no longer make eye contact. The fear of connection that brings the possibility of contamination has caused a disruption in fulfilling our need for connection. On Instagram, she encouraged followers to make sure we “smile with our eyes” when wearing masks because we need that from one another.
Maybe you have had similar thoughts as you have been trying to adjust to changes that make your life feel like you’ve stepped into a new reality TV show. No matter what changes in the world around us, our human need for connection remains the same wired in us from our Creator.
· The need for shelter and food
· The need to believe life is meaningful and has a purpose,
· The need for a sense of community and deeper relationships,
· The need to be appreciated and respected,
· The need to be listened to and be heard,
· The need to feel one is growing in faith,
· The need for practical help in developing a mature faith.
Our challenge in this time personally and as His church is to be intentional about recognizing our own need for “church life” and how God has designed us to create “church life” for someone else so that our God-given needs are met in healthy ways that ultimately guide us on that journey from our false self to our true self.
This is a particular challenge right now because we have always thought of church life as something centered around a building. Our needs remain the same, it is the way we do church life that has created new opportunities for growth and connection. And it all begins as we remember to “smile with our eyes.”
Reflect: What are some creative ways that you have observed others using to encourage and reach out to those around them? Have you pulled back from meeting virtually with others or are you still pursing relationship. How has this season challenged your relationship with God? Do you feel God is close or are you do you feel like He is distant? Journal your thoughts.
Encourage: Spend some time brainstorming some ways you can encourage someone else. How can you help motivate others towards “acts of compassion and fellowship?” Write down 3 of these ideas and then do them in the next week or make time to try at least one.
Gather: Invite 3-4 people that you have something in common with (stage of life, age, passions) to gather weekly in a Triad through Zoom and share lives and pray for one another. Invite a group of friends to participate in a new reading plan on the Bible App.