19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I climbed Everest yesterday.
Well, not literally. I didn’t literally trek through Nepal, or set up a tent at base camp, or make my way through glacial crevasses. I didn’t literally reach the summit or stand on the very tip-top of the world.
But I climbed Everest yesterday, just the same. For quite some time now, I’ve been using a fitness app called Yes.Fit to track the miles I walk on the hiking paths near our house. On Yes.Fit, as you log your miles with each workout, you do so in virtual “race” along the route of some real-world locale. There are “race” routes along Australia’s Great Ocean Road, California’s Pacific Coast Highway, and Ireland’s Ring of Kerry. There are virtual treks through expansive national parks (Yosemite, Glacier, Everglades, Yellowstone) and fascinating cities (London, Copenhagen, Athens, and more). Yesterday, I finished one such virtual race, a distance equivalent to that of climbing Everest. So I climbed Everest yesterday — virtually.
The trek may have been virtual… but the steps were real. The miles were real. The sun on my face and the earth beneath my feet were real.
We’re living in a time when a great deal of our interaction has gone virtual. This week alone, I’ve hosted four or five “virtual” meetings via Zoom, including Wesley’s own prayer team meeting and Bible study session. We weren’t gathered in the same room, of course. We weren’t sharing the same space or passing around the same plate of snacks. Social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have changed how we gather, at least for the moment.
The gatherings were virtual… but that doesn’t mean they weren’t “real.” The prayers were real. The conversations were real. The smiles were real. The laughter was real. And in all of that, the connections were real, too.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,” this scripture from Hebrews reads, “not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NRSV). These verses come from a larger section of scripture, one that focuses on perseverance and the shared experience of this Christian life. Not neglecting to meet together. In this season of social distancing and stay-at-home, it may seem impossible to do that, to really do that… but just because our gatherings are virtual doesn’t mean they’re not real.
“Virtual,” the dictionary reminds us, means “being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such” (dictionary.com). When we meet virtually, those gatherings have the potential for the power, force, or effect of meeting in person. As Christian people, journeying through this life of faith together, the practice of meeting together is essential, valuable, and life-giving. For the moment, it’s virtual… but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
So don’t neglect to “meet” together, friends. Encourage each other. Connect with each other. Join us online for worship, for Bible study, for prayer group, and more.
In the meantime, hold fast to this truth:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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