Sunday, August 2, 2020
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Grace Greater Than Our Sin"1 (Lyrics)

This morning, I received a lovely card from someone in my congregation. On the front, it had a picture of a beautifully lit church standing beside a gently flowing stream. Inside was a cheque donated to Erin church, along with one simple question: "When?"

I have asked myself that question hundreds of times lately, so I know what this church member was lovingly expressing. We all miss coming to the church sanctuary to be in God's presence with His people. We all miss saying prayers and singing together. Sunday mornings are just not the same without being at church.

Now, I know some people say that the church is not a building, and they are perfectly right; however, church buildings become sanctuaries and safe places to us where we can humbly enter and feel God's peaceful presence that we sometimes cannot get in our homes, schools, or workplaces. We attach ourselves to a sacred building in much the same way as our biblical ancestors felt connected to their temple: it is a place of safety and acceptance, peacefulness and love.

Psalm 84:2 – My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. (NIV)

I wish I could answer that simple question of "When?" with the word "Now," but in our present circumstances, it has to be "Not yet." I would love to open the doors today and have the good folks of the church streaming past me to get to the sanctuary that we all dearly love, but as a shepherd, I'm called to look after the sheep under my care, even when some of the flock want something else.

There will come a time when we shall gather to declare our love for God and one another. There will come a moment when we will praise God together and even sing those ancient psalmist's great words of faith: "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." (Psalm 63:3 NIV)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all long to be in God's house to praise Your name as one family of faith. During these troubled times, grant us the patience to persevere and the wisdom to follow Your will. In Your holy name, we pray, and for Your holy people, we ask. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    AMEN, John.

    Amen, John. I feel your pain.

    Your devotion brings blessing to all church members who are waiting for “when.”

    Dear John,
    Always written with such understanding of us humans and in the most gentlest way. Thanks for sharing once again. Blessings.

    Thank you, John, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Our church is also facing this difficult time with faith seasoned with caution and caring for others. We long for worship in our Sanctuary but have opted for online live streaming instead. Blessings.

    Thanks for this encouraging devotion today. So many of us miss our church families and being able to worship together every Sunday but we also need to be careful and patient especially when so many of our members are vulnerable seniors. May God bless you as you minister to your congregation during this challenging time,

    Thank you for your email Devotional. I miss attending services at my church. I trust God and my church administrator. We are without a Minister at this time. I telephone my church friends. It helps. It will be glorious when we return. But God is faithful and calls us to continue helping others and serve the poor, as we are able. The ministry continues!

    Good morning John,
    When? indeed. As I turned the page to August 1st in my diary, I saw that I was to lead the service in different churches this month, but it is not to be, not yet!
    Thank you for those good words this morning
    Blessings to you and yours on this, by us, stormy and rainy Sunday.

    Are you allowed to gather for your service outside?
    If not, is there someone in the congregation who is tech savvy?
    Some churches are using ZOOM, while others are using Facebook.
    I think there is a way to do it – though I am not tech savvy either (I’m 67 and I have my grandkids handle these matters!)
    God bless you and your and keep pitching and praying,

    Thank you, John, for today’s devotional. I can so relate to this and long for the day when my community of faith can come together to worship our God and share fellowship together. For now, we have to exercise patience and give thanks for what we do have during these trying times. We hear such sad reports from the U.S. and hope you and your congregation are staying safe and well. You are in my prayers.
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Are you live streaming? I hope so, your “flock” will need a “Word“ (via your lips, as their pastor) from the Lord to keep them fed.
    I am seeing that in the time of lockdown churches are showing their true character.
    Although I live in Canada, I’m tuning in to one in England, where I am being richly fed and comforted by the gospel teaching. My local church did not meet that need.
    Thanks for your teaching, which I have always benefitted from,

    Greetings John,
    Thank you for writing this morning’s devotional which expresses the feelings and question on so many minds these days. For many, the technology available these days gives opportunity to worship “virtually” on computer but it is still not the same as seeing each other and greetings each other in person and what a happy day that will be when we can safely do that again. Meanwhile, we surely must follow the rules to stay safe and keep praising our Lord for His continued watch over us.
    Many thanks for your thoughtful writings. Stay well.

    I think the operative words are something like this:
    They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
    they shall mount up on wings like eagles….

    Thank you, John. Very sage advice. We struggled with this question a month or so ago. The Session was being pressured to reopen our sanctuary. We would have all loved to, but when looking at the pros and cons, as well as the demography of our congregation, we decided to keep the sanctuary closed. We did start having monthly services in the parking lot, however.

    Good morning Rev. Stuart. When I first saw the word ‘When’ I thought it meant when will Jesus return?! I live in Ontario, Canada and my church has returned to in-person worship. We have many restrictions in place — limited to 30% capacity, pre-registering so the numbers and contact information are known, wearing masks except when comuning, no singing — from various government levels. It is different, but better than ‘You-Tube’ church, which was what we had been doing. I hope and pray that you will also be able to return to in-person worship soon. Blessings on your day.

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