Several nights a week, Rick and I sit by the fire pit in our backyard. Rick builds a fire, carefully arranging the kindling and small logs. When the kindling is lit, fire flares up as the logs catch fire. Eventually it burns down. Rick pokes the fire again, stirring the embers and moving them closer together.
The embers burn brighter when they are closer together, not scattered.
Watching the fire crackle and flicker, I thought of how the embers are like the church.
Believers are encouraged in their faith when they are in fellowship. Maintaining Christian fellowship has been challenging during the pandemic with social distancing. People are weary or lonely from the constraints. Everyone has their own comfort level for being around others, which needs respect.
Some Zoom calls successfully connect to others. However, Zoom fatigue sets in from the tiredness of looking at a computer screen.
Yet, we need our embers of faith near others to keep the flame of fellowship burning.
An ember by itself will soon burn out. In the backyard fire ring, the burning coals have to be close together to keep burning.
When we’re ready to come in for the night, the coals are separated and spread out around the fire pit so they will burn out.
Hebrews 10:23-25 offers hope for personal faith and fellowship, even in the pandemic.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV
- Look to the Lord as the source of hope. Distance yourself from the negativity of the news. Focusing on the news will steal your hope and joy. Instead, hold steadfastly on to hope. When discouraged, read the promises in God’s Word. The Lord is always faithful.
- Encourage others by showing kindness. Let someone go ahead of you in the grocery store. Send a note of encouragement to a friend. Smile under your mask; your eyes will show it. Share simple words of hope and actions of the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Keep meeting together for fellowship, whether through virtual church services or meeting in person. If you watch a church service, allow yourself to participate in singing or joining the chat (if one is available). This will help you feel more connected to the Body of Christ, not just an observer watching a TV show.
In the past few months, Rick and I have traveled to several different churches for his job. God’s people are safely meeting for fellowship and worship. The attendance is smaller, but those who come are encouraged in faith. I have been encouraged by the fellowship.
This year has changed much. Things will probably not go back to the pre-pandemic days. In scripture we find encouragement to press on. We have to pivot to do things differently.
Do what you can to keep the flame of fellowship glowing and not become the isolated ember.
Remember: God is the source of hope. He loves you. He is faithful.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19 NIV
The Lord will be faithful to sustain us as we look to Him, and with others in fellowship.