So when the disciples had come together, they asked Jesus . . . (Acts 1:6)
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet . . . when they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying . . . . . (Acts 12 & 13)
When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place. (Acts 2:1)
The first disciples were busy folks. Having experienced Easter they were continually gathering and going out; then coming in and hunkering down. It’s a fascinating read and a bit of fun just to keep up with them in those first weeks after the terrifying joy of Gethsemane.
The Church has always gathered together; the Church has always dispersed into the world. The Church is only authentically Church (Jesus’ Body) when we are together. The Church is only authentically Church (Jesus’ Body) when we are scattered into the world God loves so much.
The tension of gathering or scattering has always been there. Some times in our history as people of faith gathering has been hard because of persecutions, hostile neighbors, wars, famine, pandemics and storms. That’s when the Church generally presses forward, gathering as best it can, but always remembering that being a part of the Body is not dependent on gathering alone.
The Church scattered is the Church at work. That’s where people will hear the Gospel for the first time and where we will be Jesus’ hands and feet to redeem the broken lives around us. The scattered Church can seem weak and lonely, but it is the Body at work. The scattered Church is an exciting community, people on a mission.
We – or at least most Christians I know – have struggled during this pandemic about scattering and gathering. We miss each other and we miss the formative strength to be had in common corporate worship; the sweetness of literal fellowship. But we understand, with God-given intellect how to best care for ourselves and each other, by distancing and gathering virtually and with distance.
We – or at least most Christian I know – have struggled with how to be in the world at times in the last year. When and how to be most effective in doing God’s work during a pandemic. But we understand, with God-given intellect how to best serve others, by keeping rules to do no harm and how to share life-giving precautions and care such as vaccines.
Just now the pressure to “return to normal,” has grown especially intense. As the pandemic morphs into a new reality we will continue to gather and to scatter in new ways I suspect. The “new normal” so much discussed may or may not please you.
But remember that we are the Church: people who know an incredible hope. That means that we are to live as people of hope even when we disagree about how to gather and when to scatter.
The first disciples gathered and scattered because of the Risen One. We do too. That’s why we say as we go and as we come, “Thanks be to God!”
Coming and Going,
If you would like to view past editions of Hello from Harvey,
follow this link: https://capitaldistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/