The Return From Exile

“Then we left the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem; the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from thehand of the enemy and from ambushes along the way.” – Ezra 8:31

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING: Ezra 8-10, Proverbs 29

I’m ready. I’m beyond ready. I was beyond ready before Easter. I have missed being with you in person on Sunday mornings. I have missed hearing thechurch as we are led in song by our praise band and our choir. I have missed shaking hands, high fives, and giving hugs. I have missed hearing about your joys, your concerns, your celebrations, and your difficulties. I have missed huddling up with you in prayer. I have missed SO MUCH about our being together.

The last several weeks have been hard for so many of us. While I remain grateful for the gift of technology and being able to stay connected through social media and phone calls, I yearn for the days when we can gather again for worship, for fellowship, for discipleship, and for serving others. And we are ALMOST THERE.

As we read about the Israelites return from exile in Ezra, we can learn from this story about how we can properly return to worship in our church. First, there was a time of preparation. Ezra and his friends had to rebuild the temple and make preparation for the return to Jerusalem. Second, there was time for fasting and prayer. We should do nothing without prayer. And finally, there was rejoicing in recognition for all that God had done and was doing.

Friends, we WILL return to church! And when we do return, it will be a glorious day. Our leadership team has been meeting and discussing our preparations to return to worship in person as soon as possible. You will hear more about this in the next couple of weeks. I am asking that you join me in prayer and fasting as we move closer to gathering in person. Throughout the month of June, will you commit to join me in praying each day and fasting for one meal each week (I’ll be fasting on Wednesdays at lunch). Finally, let us continue to give thanks to God as we celebrate all that God has done and is doing during this time. God is with us. God is for us. And God will do AMAZING THINGS among us.

Have a great weekend and stay safe! I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday at 10:15 AM on YouTube.

With the Love of the Lord,
Matt

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support our church with your tithes, gifts, and offerings during this time of physical distancing. Many of you have transitioned to online giving, and that is great. Did you know that you can also schedule your giving to be a recurring a gift each month? For many, this is helpful as the summer months approach and schedules get a little less routine. If you would like to know more about setting up a recurring schedule for giving, please contact Heather Woods at heather@roystonfirstumc.org.