The Joy of Face-to-Face Fellowship
Pastor Eugene encourages us to meet together for mutual encouragement, as we have the opportunity to do so.
Over the past few months, many of us have spent a lot more time online. I’ve observed this with my two sons, Zachary and Iain. Since the implementation of home-based learning during the “circuit-breaker” period, they have grown more accustomed to using the computer. So much so that my wife, Claire, and I have had to figure out how to limit their time on electronic devices.
I’m thankful for how technology has allowed us to stay connected, but I’ve also been surprised by how tiring it has been. “Zoom fatigue” is real, as many of us have experienced. It is convenient not having to commute to meetings or even to change out of our pyjamas. It can be draining, however, to continually stare at ourselves on a screen and have other disembodied heads stare back at us.
Why are online meetings so tiring? Academics Libby Sander and Oliver Bauman, who are professors of organisational behaviour and psychology respectively at Bond University in Australia, wrote: “People feel like they have to make more emotional effort to appear interested, and in the absence of many non-verbal cues, the intense focus on words and sustained eye contact is exhausting.”
Being able to again meet people in person has given me no small measure of relief. I realised how much I had missed such interpersonal interaction when I recently had lunch with a brother from church. It was so encouraging to finally be able to speak with him face-to-face, after months of online meetings. My family has also rekindled the joy of having people over for meals with us.
I now better understand what the Apostle John meant by these words: “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 Jn 12) Understood in this light, Zoom fatigue can be helpful because it makes us yearn to meet in the flesh. I’ve discovered that online meetings are an imperfect substitute for actually gathering.
Scripture exhorts us to guard the “holy habit” of regularly gathering as God’s people. It is easy to become comfortable with watching an online service. Therefore, we must be clear about what it is: a temporary arrangement for an unusual season; not a new and permanent way of doing church. We would do well to take to heart this exhortation from Hebrews: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”
For this reason, the elders have decided to resume our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We did not do so while certain Covid-19 precautionary measures were in place because we could not come together in a physical gathering. But given that some of the restrictions have been lifted as part of phase 2 of the nation’s reopening, we are now able to gather in a congregation of up to 50. Therefore, should the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth respond favourably to our request, we will begin serving the Lord’s Supper every Sunday from August 16. We have also submitted a plan to resume our baptisms.
Each gathering will be limited to 50 people. Participants will have to sign up online ahead of time. A registration link will be opened for registration on the Sunday prior to the date of your planned attendance. Sign-ups for each Sunday will be on a first-come-first-served basis and will close once the 50-person limit has been reached.
While the elders would like to encourage all of us to come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we also ask that you not register for more than one service per month. This will ensure others also have an opportunity to gather.
In the meantime, I urge us all to persevere in intentionally connecting with one another, whether by reading the Bible and praying one-on-one or by meeting with our care groups. Do email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be connected with a CG. And do pray for God to grow our church community in love and unity. In the midst of these dark days, may we shine with the affection of Christ!
God cares deeply about our life together as a church. He has brought us together to help one another grow in Christ. How do we come alongside others to encourage them to follow Jesus? Join us for Equip this Saturday (Aug 8) at 330pm to learn more about how we can disciple one another. The class will be conducted on Zoom. You can join via this link: https://tinyurl.com/equip-aug8
This Sunday, we will be hearing from Luke 11:1-13 about how God calls us to prioritise His kingdom in our prayers. May He prepare our hearts to listen to Him!