Written March 23, 2020
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:8-12
Dear Beloved of God:
Sitting in Corinth, Greece, around 750 miles away from the city of Rome, Italy, St. Paul composed his longest letter to his friends and colleagues of the Christian Church in Rome. As he mentions at the beginning of his letter, he kept praying for them faithfully and longed to see them in person so that together they could strengthen each other in the faith. He knew even as he wrote that letter, that it might be a long time before he could actually reconnect with friends he had worshipped with and been connected to for years. He was heading to Jerusalem, the total opposite direction, but in his heart he confesses that he longed to turn and head to be with his friends once again.
As we enter our second week of the forced physical separation, I feel that desire to be together once again with you. I am sure I am not alone in this feeling. The church is a family of people gathered to worship and pray in faithful service to God and his creation. To be apart from each other, even if you all regularly sit far away from the front pews, seems like a breakdown of our family togetherness. But we know it will not last. We may be in the time of the bleakness and starkness of Lent, but we know that the joy of Easter is coming. The resurrection to new life is assured. Through Christ’s victory, redemption and everlasting promise, we know nothing can forever separate us from God and each other. May you continue to pray for each other, for me, for St. Mark and the church universal. Remember all those facing this virus and the doctors, nurses, scientists and leaders who are working to alleviate and stop it. May you continue to stay connected socially and spiritually in all ways possible.
In the peace and grace of God,
Pastor Kirk Griffin