Saturday, March 02, 2019

"Flash Mobs from Heaven" -- Pastoral Letter from the 2019.03.03 Hopewell Herald

Dear Congregation,

Have you ever witnessed online—or even in person—a “flash mob”? The term refers to coordinated performances that take place out where unsuspecting people find themselves suddenly immersed in something that is from another world than the one that they were expecting.

They were in the world of the shopping mall, or the street corner, or the train station; then, suddenly, they find themselves in the world of the symphony or the chorale. Oftentimes, people who are very unfamiliar with these worlds find themselves enjoying very much this invading sample from the other world.

On a number of occasions in the first year of her life, it has been a joy to observe this “flash mob” effect on our Itty Bit, as she is affectionately called. She will be sitting with us at table for a meal. Things will get (mostly) cleaned up. Daddy will say, “God made.” Everyone will say, “everything!” Daddy will say, “And God helps.” Everyone will say, “us!” Daddy will say, “So let’s worship.” Everyone will say, “God!” Then there will be prayer. Then everyone will open a book. Then the most amazing thing happens. The entire family breaks forth into singing.

It is difficult to find words for the look on Itty Bit’s face at this point. She seems clearly to see that there has been an invasion from some wonderful world at this point. And not just the world of singing in four part harmony—although there is that. But rather the world of praise. The world that exists in the more cognizantly immediate presence of God.

No, she doesn’t always (or often, yet!) behave well all the way through Bible reading, though it does seem that she understands that this is like no other reading that we do as a family (and we read other things). No, she doesn’t always make it all the way through Bible explanation/application, though she does seem to be observing that this is different than normal conversation. And she doesn’t quite seem to “get” prayer—though she seems to get that it is different than anything else that we do.

On the whole, the exercises of worship aren’t things that she seems to be processing in the way that one day (soon!) she will be. But one thing that she is processing is that there is another world, and our family belongs to it and participates in it—even though we also have a zip code in Middle Tennessee. And—God helping us—she is starting to learn that there is a joy in this belonging and participation that is, quite literally, other-worldly.

When, some time ago, we were in Hebrews 12:18-29 as a congregation, we learned from Scripture that corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is a visit to this other world. It’s kind of the inverse of the flash mob. We come to the great cloud of witnesses—and especially to Him Himself whom they witness—and discover there wonders and joys that leave an impression upon us that is far greater than the sum of the particular benefits of the particular exercises of worship.

The difficulty for us is that this visit must occur by faith, and this impression is perceived by faith. May the Lord, who measures out faith unto believers, measure out unto us an ever-increasing portion for these weekly visits to glory!

Looking forward to visiting there with you tomorrow,


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