Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus"1 (Lyrics)
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NRSV)
I always seem to have had a far-flung circle of family, friends, and colleagues. I grew up in Ontario and still have two sisters nearby, but two siblings and both my parents moved to the west coast many years ago. My parents emigrated from the United Kingdom in the 1950s, and we still have relatives overseas. Before I retired, my business associates were scattered widely across Canada, the USA, and Europe. I don't think that my experience is at all unique. Far-flung families and networks of friends are the norm nowadays.
Being able to connect and communicate is basic to the human condition. How do we manage this across such vast distances? Luckily, over the years, our options have continued to grow broader and richer. Dangerous sea voyages lasting weeks or months have been supplanted by air travel that can take us to the other side of the globe in mere hours. Ancient courier services were supplanted by modern postal systems. Telegrams were replaced by telephones. Satellites and the internet have brought connection capabilities that were previously unthinkable.
From the time I was 18 years old, my parents and I lived in different cities. For roughly the last 20 years of my mother's life, we were separated by over 4,000 kilometres. When we found ourselves in the same town — either she visiting me here in Toronto or Madoc in Ontario, or me visiting her in Victoria, British Columbia, or perhaps both travelling together in some far-off city — we always tried to attend church together. It was very special to worship together. In latter years, we discovered that we both enjoyed a particular television ministry. What a blessing that was! We were able to listen to the same sermon, sing along to the same hymns, and then talk about it all afterwards on the phone.
Similarly, for several years, I worked in Toronto, but my manager was in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. He and I shared our Christian faith, and once, I was able to worship with him and his wife. Subsequently, we discovered that his local service was broadcast over the Internet. Our discussions about church and faith were now supplemented by our ability to experience the same service.
Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (NRSV)
As our world continues to change — more rapidly every day, it seems — there will be more and more ways to connect. Our definitions of "community" and "connection" will continue to change. Our ability to "gather" will continue to change. As Christians, I believe that these technologies present us with new opportunities but also with responsibilities: to connect with each other, to support one another, to gather together, to pray and worship together, to be in community with one another, no matter how much physical distance separates us.
Prayer: Loving God, thank You for providing us with so many ways of staying in connection with one another. Please guide us and help us to use these tools to better serve You. Help us to embrace new ways of being in community with one another as we worship You together. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.