As I was scrolling through my timeline on Twitter yesterday an interaction caught my attention. For some algorithmic reason beyond my understanding, an interaction between Jen Wilkin and another Tweeter (Twitter-er?…) caught my eye. Jen is the author of many great books, and a contributor on one of my favourite podcasts, Knowing Faith. Here is a screenshot of the exchange I noticed:
A little bit of context is helpful to understand this exchange.
The two friends referenced in this Twitterverse conversation are JT English and Kyle Worley. Both JT and Kyle served alongside Jen in The Village Church Institute and form the other 2/3rds of the aforementioned Knowing Faith podcast. Within the past year both of these men have left TVCI in order to serve in other pastoral roles at different churches.
Jen articulated well the situation many of us find ourselves. We are still connected with those we love and cherish, but not in the ways we used to be. We’re realizing, now, how precious proximity actually is.
The apostle John says something very similar at the end of his very short and second letter. He says in verse 12 of 2 John:
“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
This expression by John is a kind of First-Century idiom – something that people commonly said in letters. Centuries later, this ancient idiom reiterates something that I have been grieving this past month or so (and something that Jen so pithily encapsulated): proximity is precious.
I am glad that I am able to worship with you all online and connect through zoom calls, emails, phone calls, and text messages. And also, I miss being able to wander through an office and see the familiar faces of colleagues. I am glad and yet I grieve.
I miss seeing dear friends on Sundays (family, really!). I miss seeing brothers and sisters in the faith fill the hallways of a rented school as we gather into a gymnasium-turned-Sanctuary. I miss the hustle and bustle of a Sunday morning. Spilled coffee. Running children. A long-distance nod or wave from someone across the room. I miss all the little impromptu conversations that happen before and after (and sometimes even during!) the worship gathering. Proximity is precious.
There is a day coming when we will be able to gather again. Until then, we should be glad for all the ways we can continue to connect with each other. And we can also hope to visit and talk with each other face to face, so that our joy can be complete.
And, let’s not miss the opportunity this difficult providence affords us:
Let’s long even deeper for the Day coming when we will gather face to face with all tribes and tongues and nations around the throne of our great King and Saviour.