Reopening the Church: 1 Year Later
Reflections on an Easily Overlooked Milestone
In the life of a church, as in any family, there are milestones that can pass unnoticed. This is often the result of current pressing issues simply overshadowing the marking of an important turning point. An example of this can be seen in the present moment. This past Sunday marked a full year of the resumption of public worship services at North Johnson City Baptist Church. Of course, that resumption was in light of those same public services having been suspended for 11 weeks. In the blog post that I wrote to mark the reopening of the church, I stated that such a suspension of in-person worship was unfathomable...truly, I still find it to be so.
The past fifteen months have certainly been unprecedented within our lifetime. Not only did worship move online, but for the first time in the history of our church, there was no public Lord's day service to mark Resurrection Sunday. I know that none of us expected such an event. Nevertheless, expected or not, it happened. We can be thankful that it did not take our sovereign God by surprise.
In particular, those early days of the pandemic were challenging. The first couple of Sundays in March 2020 were spent trying to wrestle with a metric by which we could make difficult decisions about worship. When the call to suspend services was finally made, beginning with the March 22nd service, we scrambled to offer an alternative means to gather online. There was no recent precedent nor written policy to steer us; we simply tried to obey God by balancing the command to worship with that of obeying the civil magistrates.
The year of public worship (that was made complete this past Sunday morning) has been wonderful. Our gracious God has been so kind to us as a congregation. We have gathered in prayer, song, fellowship, and in the hearing of the Word. I pray that such a privilege would, in light of last year's experience, not be taken for granted. It is such appreciation that we should mark this milestone. God, by His grace, has brought together the people of North Johnson City Baptist Church. He has, by His grace, sustained us through this difficult time.
How could we not be a people most grateful? How could we not mark this milestone?
Therefore, let us offer thanksgiving to our heavenly Father from hearts overflowing with gratitude. Let that same gratitude be the basis of a prayer of thanksgiving for this past year of renewed public worship. Let it remind us of the importance of gathering as the people of God.
Now, we arrive at the first Sunday of a subsequent year. Let us join in prayer that it would be used for the glory of God and for the good of His people.