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Two Ways, Revisited

“This can go two ways.” I can’t tell you how many dramas have used that line. Usually as the prelude to a threat.  No threats here, but definitely serious.
By PAUL ZILMER
Read Time: 3 minutes

Where I live, restrictions resulting from the pandemic are being lifted, much to nearly everyone’s relief.  The severity of the pandemic varies from place to place, and with it the restrictions, but in many places the trend is definitely toward reopening.

Over a year ago, I posted a reflection called “Two ways”, which included some thoughts about when things reopened.  You remember, don’t you?  We were all already chomping at the bit for the thing to be over.  This morning I looked at that reflection again, and I believe those thoughts are worth saying again now that reopening is happening.  Here it is.

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“This can go two ways.”  Can’t tell you how many dramas have used that line. Usually as the prelude to a threat.  No threats here, but definitely serious.

Most of us, maybe all who read this, haven’t been able to get to a Sunday meeting lately. Many are tuning into an online meeting, but others can’t, or just aren’t.

For those who have been used to attending a meeting most every week, this can go two ways, when restrictions are lifted.

We can start attending again, glad to be in one another’s company once more. Or we can find that the staying home thing has been easier—no getting up & ready & out the door, and no ecclesial dramas to have to contend with, and besides, we can tune into a meeting online!

Our flesh is lazy and forgetful and can’t be trusted

For those who mostly didn’t manage to get to a meeting before, this can go two ways.

We can realize that the world has changed, and we might need to make some changes ourselves—changes for the better for our spiritual well-being. Or we can let things settle back into the way they were; the stay at home thing was really nothing different anyway.

For those who had a habit of attending, and for those who had a habit of not attending, this can go two ways.

We can resume our habit. Or we can decide we should really be more thoughtful and more intentional about our attendance. Maybe this disruption has been a good thing in one way—to shake us out of the rut we’ve been running in.

  • The very first brothers and sisters in the new Jerusalem church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)  They sure didn’t skip the meetings!  Nor did they just go out of habit!
  • The tendency for meetings to grow habitual, or to start skipping them entirely, isn’t new. Here’s some advice:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Let’s face it. Our flesh is lazy and forgetful and can’t be trusted. We need the kind of prod the writer gives us here.

For those who attend a meeting because of enjoying the fellowship (even if there are some who rub us the wrong way); and because singing praises together is a joyful thing (even if some of us don’t sing real well); and because being exhorted has real value (even if some of the talks aren’t that great); and because it is really, really good to eat and drink together in remembrance of our Lord—looking forward to eating and drinking with the Lord and all his family in his Kingdom… even for these, this can go two ways.

Change has happened and won’t un-happen

When restrictions are loosened up, we can start attending again for all these good reasons and feel good about it.

Or we can go a step further, and reach out to someone who doesn’t attend very often—invite, cajole, urge them to join us. Need a ride?  I can do that. Need a wake-up call?  I can do that. Need a reason?  I can help with that. Got a problem or a sticking point? Don’t know if I can help, but I sure want to try.

In other words, be the boost for someone else that you know you sometimes need yourself.

Bottom line, every one of us will have the opportunity (let’s look at it like that) to make a decision.  Staying at home hasn’t been easy—except for the part where it’s been all too easy. The disruption in all our lives has ranged from minor inconvenience to tragedy and sorrow.

Change has happened and won’t un-happen. And for each of us, the result can go two ways. We can use it as a lever to make positive spiritual changes. Or not.

Love, yearning to see you face to face, Paul

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