Written by Ps Zheng Haoren
I believe “Homecoming” was on the minds of most who had returned for in-person Services in July 2020. A three-month enforced restriction on physical gathering at church is unprecedented. Should this restriction continue in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic? Should online services become a preference or norm for Christ-followers? I’ll do a detour and come back to these questions later.
There is a longing in me to reconnect with old friends recently. I found that I wasn’t the only one. Within days a chat group was formed, and a class photo taken more than 40 years ago became the profile picture. There was a frenzy of exclamations, exchanges, reminiscence, jokes, even sad news. Immediate calls for get-togethers were shouted. By the third day, this jubilation had subsided. Occasional chats are now maintained by a small group, which faithfully met every few weeks.
I joined this small group when Phase 2 of Circuit Breaker kicked in. It was back to good old days and banter over two cups of coffee lasting almost two hours. Towards the closing of our meeting, I realized that our conversation was getting shallow. “Why so?” I’d pondered. This relational phenomenon is not uncommon. It’s experienced by all. When we see less of each other over an extended period of time, we simply drift apart.
So it’s the same in our relationship with God and fellow believers. Over a prolonged separation our closeness with God and each other will suffer. So coming back to God’s sanctuary after Circuit Breaker is indeed a homecoming! The physical presence of gathering to worship God and partake Holy Communion with our Lord Jesus is uniquely ordained by God. It’s His wisdom and will for us.
So, to answer the questions of the first para – No, the restriction to gather physically should not continue indefinitely. With sound safety considerations, we should gather as soon as permissible. And no, online services should not become a preference or norm for it’s simply not God’s will.