Do you remember what it was like to worship together? It is hard to believe that we’ve been apart for 16 weeks! At times, it all feels a bit like an unwelcome dream. But I remember. My memory paints a picture of smiling faces gathered for the common good. Voices raised in song: songs of jubilation, peace, and love. Oh, how I long to be together again. As we continue to wait, I am warmed by memories of the gathered church. I am also strengthened and encouraged by words penned long ago. Scripture, poems, and songs often say what we cannot express ourselves, and so we lean into these words as a source of hope.
In his poem, “Music, When Soft Dies,” Percy Bysshe Shelley (1821) reminds us that memories endure, and that love lives on.
Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken, live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, are heap’d for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, love itself shall slumber on.
In the book of Hebrews, we also hear the importance of memory, and the earnest plea to continue on in faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith … Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
As sweet memories of our gathered community sustain us, let us, with hope and faith, continue the work of Christ in the world. We are apart, but we are together. We know who we are, and whose we are. As we continue to worship in new ways, may the very God who inspires and demands that worship be with us, and may our memory of what once was, allow us to see what will be … both now and in the future. May the peace of Christ be with you.