Pastor’s Perspective 06-09-2020
During my visit to Israel in 1998, I was like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to see and experience. To this day, I am able to put a visual image with a number of specific Bible texts. One of the places we visited stirred me to the core of my being. The Western Wall. Also called the Wailing Wall, referring to the practice of Jews weeping at the site over the destruction of the two Temples. The massive rectangular stones erected as part of the expansion of the second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great. The Western Wall’s holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the Temple Mount. Of the four retaining walls, the western one is believed to be the closest to the former Holy of Holies. Due to Temple Mount entry restrictions, the site is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray.
I watched many praying fervently that day. Their bodies rocking back and forth as they faced the wall. Some placed their prayer requests on tiny strips of paper stuck in the crevices between the stones. No doubt many long for the restoration of the Temple and the opportunity to worship there again. It took me a while to feel comfortable enough to approach the wall. It was clearly a special place of worship for the people I observed that day.
I remember my first Sunday back “in church” – right here at Snyder – after my return from Desert Storm in 1991. We were meeting in the fellowship hall at the time and I still remember where I sat. I was unprepared for the question at the end of the service from the platform and the emotion I experienced when my home church applauded as a handful of us stood to be recognized on our first Sunday home.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. There were a few tears and a lot of smiles as we gathered for worship in person for the first time in three months. A little over 200 between the two services. It felt different for sure. But it felt so good, too. I know the church isn’t a building. It is the people of God. Spiritual stones fitted together to worship and serve Him. Still, there is something very special about this place of worship. It is the place where many of us have experienced God’s presence through worship services and special events over the years. It is where we have exchanged many hugs and handshakes with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is our church home. And it is sweet to be able to worship in person again for those who are able.
See you Sunday! ~ John