If the last 17 months were ‘surreal’ in the suspension of life as we knew it, then yesterday’s informal church visit to Eglington Park was ‘so real’ in a staggering and profound way! I’m emotional reflecting on it. In stark contrast to streamed, recorded and virtual meetings across the internet our interactions were visceral, in-person, ‘In the flesh’ face-to-face, and something shifted in my soul. What exactly shifted I’m not sure?
Some of us had previously worshipped together, masked in Connexions and un-masked at home. There in the great out-doors we were unmasked, adults still respecting distances but free to see each other’s smiling dimples, creases, and teeth. The kids, some of whom have seriously sprouted since last spotted, loved the fun and games and there was a lovely, relaxed feel as people mixed.
There was the natural concern and prayer that there be no spread of Covid with such park freedom, but I could see that it wasn’t just in me something was shifting. Someone confessed to being down for so long, but in this moment, she was smiling, laughing, and viewing the world without the fear-cloud and dread that’s stalked her lately.
For me, the ability to chat, smile, laugh, share stories and simply be next to unmasked friends was liberating. Seeing some people after such a long time, I suspect, was a little like anticipated re-unions with loved ones who’ve died and gone ahead of us ‘into glory’. Altogether, it’s made me more hopeful for the church family’s future and our communities’ futures.
‘Virtual’ communication is helpful, a God-send for families and friends far from each other. Sometimes our communications with God can feel a bit virtual, displaced, and distant, but I don’t think that’s how God intends it to be. God came in person through Jesus, face-to-face, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh and continues with us in the person of His Spirit.
“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14 / MSG)
In Matthew chapter 25 Jesus tells us that in loving and caring for each other, especially for those who are vulnerable and in need, we come face to face with Jesus, “Whatever you did (or didn’t do) to the least of these my siblings, you did to me.”
Yes, something is shifting in my soul, a growing appreciation of face-to-face, person-to-person loving, caring relationships. 1 Corinthians 13 describes and anticipates the day when we shall see Jesus face to face, but also brings into the ‘here and now’ with Heaven’s foretaste when we experience, express and explore Jesus’ sacrificial Love.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13 / MSG) Happy Soul-shifting my friends!