This week I had a zoom meeting with about a dozen other pastors. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that every few months I get together the other AGC pastors in central Alberta and we share a little bit about what’s going on in our churches, we pray for each other, and we discuss a whole variety of different issues that come up.
And at our meeting this week, the question was asked: What do you think God is saying to the churches through this COVID-19 pandemic? Is God using this time to reshape how we think about church? Is He using this time to re-adjust our priorities and our focus? God doesn’t waste opportunities, so what do you think God wants us to learn through this challenging time?
There were several thoughts that came up, but the one that stuck out to me was this: Could it be that God is reminding us of the value of relationships?
In this time where everyone is separated and isolated from one another – could God be using this time to show us just how critical it is be be connected with one another?
The fact is, we are built for relationships! And I know I say that often – but it’s true! We are created and designed to live in healthy relationships with each other and with God.
Without those relationships – we wither and die inside. And perhaps some of us are feeling a little bit of that now. Being apart from our families, not having that personal interaction with our friends – being absent from our church family – it’s hard. It doesn’t feel right! There’s almost an emptiness we feel when we go so long being apart from one another.
And that’s because we were created for community – community with each other and community together with God. Separation and isolation were never part of God’s perfect plan for mankind.
I was reminded this week that Hell is defined by separation and isolation from God. It’s the worst possible scenario!
But in contrast to that, Heaven is being together with God. It’s being in his presence – seeing him face-to-face. That’s what we long for and hope for more than anything else in this world!
And I think that just speaks to this truth that we are created for community – we are created for relationships with each other and with God!
And perhaps God is using this pandemic to remind us of that and to give us a fresh, new understanding of that reality!
So with that in mind this morning, I want to look at the story of “Matman” and his friends! Not “Batman and his friends” but Matman and his friends.
And if you’re not familiar with that story, you can find it in Luke chapter 5 or it’s also recorded in Mark chapter 2. I’m going to read from Mark chapter 2 this morning. It goes like this:
1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. Mark 2:1-2a
And I’ll pause her for a minute just to give you a little bit of the background here. This is fairly early on in Jesus earthly ministry. He’s been going around to different towns throughout the region of Galilee preaching and teaching, doing miracles, healing people, and over-all, just attracting a lot of attention. Everyone’s hearing about this amazing Jesus fellow. And that’s why, when he comes back to his hometown of Capernaum, everybody wants to come see Jesus. He’s kinda like a celebrity at this point. They want to hear what he has to say and perhaps see him to a miracle or two!
And because of that, the house where he was staying was packed with visitors – so full in fact, that people were backed up – right out the door! On sermon I read described the house as being “packed tighter than a hippo in skinny jeans!” (Try to visualize that, if you can.) But you can just imagine everyone being squished together – shoulder to shoulder – all trying to get inside the house to get a glimpse of Jesus!
And that’s what’s going on when Matman and his friends arrive. It says in verse 2…