The Cost of Disconnection

I guess one thing that lockdown has altered in me is to make me more open to chat to total strangers.

Because of all the massive social changes of the last six months, I feel I've far more in common with people I've never met before. I guess people felt a bit like this during the war. Common threat, common hardship, common upheaval.

I had a chance cafe encounter earlier this week. Over my cooling medium Americano (black, no sugar) I spoke to someone who I gradually found out was a former Christian disillusioned by traditional church.
(BTW: 1. No-one ever needs a medium Americano - what's the point of almost a pint of black coffee? Seriously?
2. Can anyone be a 'former' Christian? Discuss.
3. I digress …)

This total stranger had been traumatised by harsh rejection in church back in the past and had given up on community worship. Too painful. Too stressful. Re-traumatising. "I can worship Jesus on my own and I do." “How about maybe trying to connect with a local church again?”, I wondered aloud. But the door was gently closed on me.

So sad and so unnecessary. Someone with no support, no encouragement, no nurture. And little chance of growing in faith outside community.

The letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament was written 30 years or so after Jesus's death and resurrection and at a time of social flux. The church had been experiencing unfamiliar hardship. And the Christians had toughed it out. But more suffering was just around the corner.
Alongside the rousing team talk in the letter, the writer encouraged the Christians to keep on meeting together:

'Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. (God) always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.' 
(Hebrews 10:23-25, The Message)

And the words he used for 'encourage' and 'spur on' are pretty tough. 'To irritate with something sharp and pointy, and to exert, strengthen, console or beseech.'
But the goal of this encouraging and spurring on is utterly fruitful: to love and help.
And the setting of this is simple: by meeting together.

No ifs. No buts. The option of isolation is not an option. The church is a body. An amputated limb might be a good teaching tool for trainee medics, but it's not much practical use. And also it’s altogether rather floppy.

Which leads me to a HELPFUL SUGGESTION.
Connect groups for the Autumn Term are starting up again. We all have the opportunity of linking up with others over the next few months. And linking up with others at this time is more important than ever.

There are groups for people at all stages of faith and none. Here's a helpful link.

Let's get connected this Autumn. And see ‘how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out’.

And remember that "where two or three gather in My name …"

PS I'm not getting commission for this plug.

Angus Lyon