Haggai is one of three post-exilic prophets who delivered the word of God to Judah. Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon and rebuild the temple. But they had lost their priorities and focused more on their own homes and personal security than restoring the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was “essential” for Jews as the center of the community, the gathering place of the people. Just like we talk about what is “essential” and “non-essential” as businesses are beginning to reopen.
“Being the church” means creating space for the people of God to gather, to grow in Scripture, and to live out discipleship in the world. I see some shifts in the church’s life after COVID-19. We count the online worship ‘number of viewers’ rather than the number of worship attendees. Also, the church building is not the center of the faith community anymore. While maintaining social distancing, we are seeking different ways to meet and connect virtually. We miss gathering with one another in person at APC to be sure. But whether we meet in person or in virtual spaces, we know that there are no boundaries or limitations in God’s grace.
God spoke words of reassurance and renewal to the Jewish remnants as they reflected upon the former glory of His temple. Although they saw the unfinished building before them, God reminded them of His covenant and that He was with them at that moment just as He was with their ancestors when they came out of Egypt. God’s promises do not come and go like our circumstances. God will bring His deliverance at His time. May we remain strong and patient, trusting God’s faithfulness in the midst of this new norm.