“When you come together.” Five times Paul says this in our text. When you come together. How much have we longed for that, and many of us at home still long for that. We feel it in our souls, that the way things are just isn’t how they should be. Where two or three are logged in together just isn’t the same as where two or three are gathered together. The novelty is wearing off of Sunday mornings in pajamas or sweatpants, with a cup of coffee, trying to sort of sing along and praying the sermon will stop buffering. We are thankful for the gift of the internet and live-streaming and for Rob Hilverda, but this is not what it means when Paul says, “when you come together.” Online church is better than no church, but it is a poor substitute for the real thing. And even for us gathered here, it still is lacking something when everyone isn’t here, we are split up between two services, the “As” never get to see the “Vs”, we have to sit apart and go outside without chatting in the narthex. And communion will be yet another adjustment. I have to keep reminding myself that countless millions of Christians have suffered far greater inconveniences and for far longer. We should be slow to complain, but we also should not just settle for this without praying for a time when we will all come together. May we long for and pray for when we can all come together as the church. One of the great mysteries of our faith is that the living God of the universe desires and seeks to have fellowship with His people and one of the great symbols of the fellowship is the joyful experience of sitting down and eating and drinking in the presence of God.
The word normal is getting used a lot these days. As in getting back to normal, the old normal, the new normal, and when will things ever be normal again. There is no question the novelty has worn off this whole crisis and we are all ready to get back to normal. It’s normal to want to get back to normal, especially when we are in the midst of something stressful and especially when there is no end in sight, no date to look forward to on the calendar. If there was just a date, even if it was October 1st, we could endure this a little better. Why is normal such a big deal, why do we want to get back to normal? We like normal because we know what to expect, we know what to do, how to act and feel. Its familiar, easier, comfortable, like an old sweater or old pair of slippers, like comfort food. But the question I want to explore with you this morning is, do we really want to get back to normal, do we really want to go back to our old ways? How was normal really working for you? How were your priorities, how were your important relationships, what was out of balance, how was your prayer life, were you distracted with all kinds of distractions?
40 is kind of a scary number. It is one of those numbers of Biblical proportions, like Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. In the Bible 40 is a number of testing, preparation and completion. We figure since we have completed this wilderness wandering now we are ready for the Promised Land of marital bliss. We’ve been told the first 40 years are the hardest. Since I am preaching on my 40th anniversary I thought I would take it as an occasion to offer some Biblical reflections on marriage and the secrets of long marriages. But what about those here who aren’t married? The teaching in Scripture about marriage and family has many applications. It is not just limited to those who are married. Our understanding of these parts of God’s Word will help us in all your relationships. So on many levels it is valuable for all of us to be a part of biblical conversations about the home. Being married and having kids are two of the hardest things you can do. Especially when you factor in how long it lasts. Marriage is one of the most sanctifying things anyone can do. Having kids is another. Those two things expose your heart, your sin, your selfishness like few other things. This doesn’t mean you can’t be sanctified if you aren’t married or don’t have kids. God is very creative and can accomplish that in a thousand ways. A roommate, health issues, a job, a boss, parents, siblings, the driver in front of you, the list goes on and on. Whatever it is in your life that God is using to sanctify you, that thing is being used by God to make you more like Jesus. We can resist and rebel, or we can submit and cooperate. Marriage is a spiritual battle ground. Instantly after the first marriage Satan was there to destroy it. He is the enemy of all marriage because marriage is a reflection of Jesus and His Church.