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Pastor’s Note: The Church Has Left the Building…


Do I even need to say that there have been a lot of difficult, heartbreaking, challenging events and realities in our world lately? “Unprecedented” and “life-changing” don’t appear to be overstatements for the global and personal impact of the COVID-19 virus. As I write this letter, I’ve preached my last several sermons to an “empty” sanctuary. Many of the people I love most I haven’t even laid eyes on for weeks. I miss y’all!

At the same time, every Sunday I’ve ever left the church building, I’ve missed the people I was just with but grateful that “the Church has left the building.” That reality is one we celebrate because we don’t “do church,” “play church,” or “go to church,” although we say those things; rather, we are the Church. God sends us into our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools to be his people on his mission. So as difficult as it is to be apart from each other at times, there are many things I rejoice in that God is faithfully working in us.

One of our deacons recently put it this way: “You can take the people out of their church, but you can’t take the Church out of its people.” Amen! Here are merely a few ways I’ve seen that play out personally and corporately over the past several weeks:

Loving Each Other

It would have been easy to shut the doors and turn inward for a while, but y’all haven’t done that. I’ve been overwhelmed at the stories of Southwood members loving each other. People have reached beyond their comfort in a time of uncertainty to help the lonely and hurting. Small groups have connected in creative ways. The deacons have led us in looking after our homebound and elderly. My estimation is that more meals have been delivered to other members in the past two months than in most years.

Loving Our Neighbors

What a great gift partnering with other churches to serve our community has been! May this continue far beyond this disrupted season! Many of us have enjoyed getting to know our immediate neighbors better, and many of us have made sandwiches, distributed meals, moved households to a new location, or served food to our homeless neighbors.

Loving the World

What we have experienced recently in not being able to gather consistently has long been a reality for many of our brothers and sisters around the world. They are often physically unable to gather or face great risk in doing so. Hopefully we understand better now how difficult that can be spiritually and emotionally. And thanks to your generosity, we’ve also gotten to share what God has blessed us with so that many of them can be fed and they can share the good news with their neighbors. Praise the Lord!

Loving God

All of the above realities are results of God’s working in our hearts deeper love for Him, so that it overflows to others around us. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with many of you about things God is doing in my heart and yours. We’ve discussed questions like “Are my emotions being influenced more by the news or by God’s Word?”, “What does praying look like during a season like this?”, “What is at the heart of the Lord’s Supper?”, and many more. All of these grow my love for my Heavenly Father as He shows himself faithful to his promises in yet another season of life.

Southwood, all the above relationships you’re investing in right now are worth it because they’re relationships that impact eternity. Nothing can stop us from pursuing them in new ways. But what’s even better: Nothing can separate us from the love of God, our great hope! See you soon!