"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe through their message that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
- John 17:20-21
From the very earliest time of the Christian church there was an understanding that in order to effectively function and perform its primary task teamwork was critical. Jesus, in his final hours prayed fervently that the disciples gathered around and the ones who were yet to become disciples would understand the concept of being "one" just as Jesus and the Father were one.
As the days, months and years rolled on this idea of one-ness was evident as the early Christians shared their belongings, ate, prayed, worked and lived in community. This sense of togetherness was the glue that held the early church together and made them effective in the mission to proclaim the good news.
During these past few weeks it has become more and more difficult to get together. In fact, groups of ten or more during this Covid-19 crisis are outlawed and we are being encouraged to, as much as possible, only have direct contact with those who live in our own homes. This of course, could put a strain on our call to be "one" as Jesus and the Father are one. However, an amazing thing is happening all around us. People are reaching out to others within their church;
- young people are reaching out to older people
- video conferences are helping people stay in touch
- connections between church members are being forged that did not exist before.
- people who hardly nodded at each other on a normal Sunday morning are now having long telephone conversations and seeking that sense of community which has been temporarily suspended.
I have seen;
- Corps Officers, normally focused on the "busy-ness" of church who have now intentionally reached out to visit (virtually) each member of their congregation in the past two week where in the normal run of time they might not have gotten to visit everyone in the space of a year.
- Facebook groups launched so everyone can know how others are coping
- the dividing of congregation member lists to pastoral care teams to ensure that no one is overlooked.
My friends, this is what the church was designed to be....connected, concerned and caring. This sense of being in it together is the foundation which helps the church to grow, produce fruit and multiply.
When this is all over and we get back to "normal" and we can once again gather in our churches may we not lose the sense of connectivity that is growing in these days. That is what Jesus prayed for and that is what will keep us strong.