Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” This is one of those familiar passages of scripture. One that everybody seems to know. It is that ancient promise that when we gather together, whether as a congregation at worship, or to study the Bible, or for prayer and meditation, or even to wander down the trail with a friend, God is with us. It is a comforting promise. I have pondered this Biblical promise a lot in recent months.
Gathering together looks really different this year. As I write this, I am thinking of joys and disappointments. Last month, I experienced real joy with a small gathering of children who participated in Vacation Bible School by Zoom. It was fun to see them in their homes at the kitchen table or on the living room couch. Like many others, I was disappointed by August without the State Fair. I miss being in groups. I miss hugs and handshakes.
Physical gatherings are not the only ways God is present for us. We are connected in so many different ways in the 21st century and our connections are powerful reminders that God is with us. Like many other pastors, I had never gone live on Facebook before the pandemic began, and now it is a joy to get to connect this way. Whether a congregation adopted streaming worship before the pandemic or learned how to do it since, there have always been people in our congregations who could not be with us for worship and have joined us via radio, TV, or streaming. And when we do this, God is with us.
Firing up the computer and signing in to a video meeting is certainly not for everyone, but many us have found tools like Skype, Zoom, and others useful as we gather to study, worship, or simply visit with family and friends. These tools are helping us stay connected and to see each other’s faces in safe ways. And when we do this, God is with us.
Our phones make it easier than ever to connect and to gather several people on one call. We have used conference calls for meetings and book clubs, for talks with grandchildren and colleagues, to share prayers and praises. And when we do this, God is with us.
We have continued to gather as the Church, even in the midst of a pandemic. We continue to gather in new and wonderful ways to sing, praise God, hear the Word, and fellowship. And whenever and however we do, God is with us.