Scattered Sojourning Pilgrims
Rev Samuel Tam
Worship Bulletin for Apr 24, 2022
During the fifth wave of the pandemic, the church has to close and brothers and sisters are scattered about. We each experience life’s troubles invariably – new COVID cases and deaths grow at a geometric rate; citizens stock up food hastily; crowds flood to get Chinese and Western medicine and Rapid Antigen Test kits… All these make people feel lost and helpless.
Such experience resonates with that depicted in the Bible: The days of us, foreigners and sojourners, are like a shadow, without hope (1 Chronicles 29:15). We have to admit that nobody can predict where the virus will appear, and there is no way to prevent infection or guarantee life. An age-old hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” comes to mind. It depicts the loneliness and sadness of the Israelites in a foreign land and how they longed for the coming of Christ. Indeed, only the Lord can comfort us in tribulation, lead us through long, gloomy nights, and bring light, hope and strength to our lives.
How the Israelites went to the temple to worship the LORD back then inspires us to become pilgrims who belong to God today. I like the description in Psalm 122:1 very much, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.'” David knew in his heart that those who go to the temple to worship the LORD are blessed pilgrims. And although the people of God have different life experiences, they can be built “like a city that is closely compacted together” by God (Psalm 122:3). Moreover, those who share faith in Christ Jesus can be joined and held together by their gifts and each does its work to serve God (Ephesians 4:16). They can live out the values and richness in Christ.
Although we cannot stop calamities, the people of God can enlist the power of prayer to pray for peace in the city and security for those who love the city (Psalm 122:6). So let us not forget the training and guarantee of prayer life: “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us” (2 Chronicles 20:9).
We will gradually resume onsite meetings over the next few weeks. Churches are among designated premises where anti-pandemic measures for public health and vaccine pass have to be implemented. There may be some inconvenience in the process. Let us grasp the opportunity to stay close to God so that, just like scattered sojourning pilgrims, we shall be satisfied with the goodness of God’s house (Psalm 65:4). May we, with a joyful heart, get involved in a new phase of “reconnected” life in the NPAC family.