Not so long ago the world was different, more free. I remember in college that my best friend had been studying in Europe for a year and I, along with some of his other friends and girlfriend, missed him a lot. We decided that we would go to the airport to greet him. Back then, before 9/11, you could go right to the gate and be there when your loved one got off the plane (now you have to wait about 12 miles away I think). His flight was delayed several times, but finally he arrived to a group of friends with signs, banners and Mt Dew (apparently not for sale in Latvia and he was pretty much addicted). It was a hero's welcome and made him feel loved immediately.
That's pretty much how I imagined finally coming back to church once this whole COVID thing was done. I had dreams of dancing in the aisles and high fiving all my beloved friends and church family who I had missed...but things don't always turn out how we imagined. Instead of hugs, we will have to social distance. Things will need to change in order to keep us safe and help us feel safe...but at least we will be together again!
Paul loved his churches, but due to his missionary travel and the fact that he was often in jail; he couldn't always be with them in person. He said this to the church he loved in Thessalonica (Thessalonians 2:17) "Brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought)."
While we have been separated in person, we have never been separated in thought. We may be separated by 6 feet, but not in love. We might be separated by a mask, but not in care. Even those who choose to worship at home via online worship are still a part of our fellowship because of our mutual concern and love for each other.
I will be glad to gather back in the building starting on July 5, but we have never really been apart, not in thought anyway. We have kept praying for each other, loving each other, showing care for each other...we have been the church no matter where we may be.