By Johnny Hobbie
For more than a year, we have seen bad news at every corner, but may this Sunday be different. We pray that this Sunday would spark change, making us a different people. A better people. This Sunday is a day of Good News.
The past twelve months have been brutal. Many experienced the loss of loved ones. Others struggled with economic uncertainty. Businesses faced temporary changes or shutdowns. Almost every individual and profession was impacted by change.
Churches are reopening, but it is not normal. Not yet. Multiple services or taped pews remind us to maintain physical distancing. Some continue to worship from home, a measure of safety at least for a short time longer.
Church leaders are praying for a strong return to in-person worship, but the results may not be what we hope or expect. Church growth expert Thom Rainer suggests that, as the storm settles, average church attendance may be down some 20%.
When we think of churches, we need to think of people, not buildings. That pew or chair is important, but only in the sense that it is a welcome place for an individual or family to worship. The activity of the church, ministry and fellowship, reminds us that God’s people need to spend time with one another in fellowship and service.
If this year of isolation, separation, and distancing has taught us anything, it has reminded us that we need to worship together and encourage one another. People have been impacted by isolation. Some have been lonely. Others have struggled with anxiety and depression. Many have become angry. We have seen it in many areas of life.
We pray that Sunday makes us a different people. Just as the beauty of Spring reminds us of new beginnings, may the Good News remind us of the hope found at the cross. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV).
May the empty tomb remind us of the power of God to change our lives. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God— this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).
This past year has been a struggle in many ways. Especially in light of that, may this Easter Sunday be special. Let’s worship together. Rejoice in the Lord. Praise him. Let’s leave our struggles at the cross, and together we pray, “Revive us again, O Lord. Renew our spirits. Rekindle our passion for your mission. Make us whole. Make us new.”
Johnny Hobbie serves as minister at Maul Road Church of Christ.