Read: Psalm 122:1-9
Consider: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc and disruption throughout the world. I live in Scotland and faith groups have been able to attend religious services from the 28th March 2021. Numbers attending are currently limited to 50, where the layout of the building ensures adequate social distancing. After a year of disruption to church attendance, is the end in sight and are we heading in the direction of normality?
For some the prospect of attending church and enjoying fellowship with fellow-believers may result in a reaction similar to David’s when he said: I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’ (Psalm 122:1). Others may face the prospect of attending church with fear and trepidation, but their desire to worship together with others helps them to overcome any anxieties they may have. In Scotland the older age groups and those who are vulnerable have been vaccinated and the statistics show that the vaccines provide a high level of protection for the individual, as well as communities. There will inevitably be a third group of individuals, made up of those who because of uncertainties, as well as those who are shielding, may prefer not to attend services until things look more normal.
Thankfully many churches have been and are still able to livestream (or pre-record) their services for people to take part in, using platforms like Zoom and YouTube. Everyone recognises the limitations of online access to church services, but these platforms have enabled believers to enjoy fellowship with each other, even if at a distance. Many churches have also used Zoom for home groups and prayer meetings. Isn’t it incredible that at the time when they were most needed (because of the pandemic), these online platforms were readily available? God has been good to us by giving us access to these online services.
Psalm 122 is “A song of ascents’, meaning it would be sung as pilgrims were journeying up to Jerusalem and the Tabernacle (later the Temple). If you are returning to on-site church services, what hymn or song would you sing to encourage both yourself and others to rejoice on the way to the ‘… house of the LORD’? Maybe your choice would be: ‘How Great Thou Art’, or ‘To God be the Glory’. Perhaps you would choose a modern song; for example ’10,000 Reasons’, ‘He Has Made Me Glad’, or ’Worthy is the Lamb’. Whatever your choice, let the words so fill your soul that you are able to praise God and rejoice in his presence.
Pray: Father, we have missed being able to praise you collectively with other Christians in person. May we approach you rejoicing and praise you for all you have done for us. We pray also for anyone who is reluctant to return to church, that you would allay their fears and anxieties. Amen