As regular readers will know, in the past few days I have been particularly drawn to Eugene Peterson’s translation in ‘The Message’. Let’s look again at this modern paraphrase today:

‘’The church in exile here with me—but not for a moment forgotten by God—wants to be remembered to you. Mark, who is like a son to me, says hello. Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you—to all who walk in Christ’s ways.’’

 The idea of being a ‘’church in exile’’ seems to resonate. It’s not always easy to put into words what I feel about these many weeks when we haven’t been able to physically gather. We are very much still the church. Nothing can change that. But doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re in a foreign land, away from home? Like the Jews in Babylon, at times we could sit down and weep when we remember ‘Zion’. Early on in the crisis, I found myself in a ‘Zoom’ pastors gathering. One of the speakers told us we should take time to ‘grieve’ all we have lost in this season. This is not just a word for leaders. It’s applicable to us all.

But it’s good to know that we are ‘’not for a moment forgotten by God.’’ He was not taken by surprise when lockdown came, and He is mysteriously and wonderfully at work in the midst of this crisis, doing, I believe, far more than we can ask or imagine.

At times we may feel lonely, but we are not abandoned.

As of now, if we were able to have a small meeting, we wouldn’t be able to give ‘’holy embraces all around.’’ Even so, let me encourage you to keep walking ‘’in Christ’s ways’’, and may you experience His deep peace.

PRAYER: Lord, like Peter’s readers, we find ourselves scattered, but by pandemic rather than persecution. Nevertheless, right where we are, help us to walk in your ways and enjoy your peace, knowing we are not here by accident.