• Mount Tabor UMC

Devotional for December 9

Face to Face Joy

2 John 12

I tend to doubt that many of us here today would dispute that 2020 has been a particularly difficult year, for a multitude of reasons. Without choosing a “side,” there has been much to quarrel over and worry about – politically, economically, racially, ethically, athletically, even spiritually. Many have lost loved ones near and dear. Even among those of us fortunate enough to have been spared this kind of personal loss, we have lost many cultural and national icons. Many are dealing with personal or family health crises, while others are struggling with financial troubles. Political tensions and disagreements are running high. What will 2020 leave behind? And what will 2021 bring in its place?

The hardships and turmoil of this year have been made worse by our inability to enjoy the personal company of one another – to eat together, go to school together, to laugh together, to cry together, to abide in one another. Matthew 18:20 reminds us that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He is with us. Yet it seems like it has been a lot tougher for two or more of us to gather together this year, and the presence and comfort of the Lord may have often seemed distant as a result. I have certainly felt that way many times this year.

When we are not able to gather together in person, our distance from one another seems so much farther. While there are many ways today to express our thoughts and emotions, hopes and dreams (too many perhaps) – social media, youtube, texting, facetiming, telephone calls, e-mail, etc., -- they do not bring the warmth of a hug, the mirth that comes from sharing a laugh, or the peace and reassurance that comes from just sitting silently next to a fellow child of God. In many cases, rather than bringing us together, “talking” without looking one another in the eye – a hateful Tweet, an opinionated letter to the editor, that e-mail which was written simply to vent but somehow got SENT – has fostered anger, suspicion, and dissension, tumult than often can only be resolved by a heart to heart talk at a table or on a couch.

Just as we know and feel it now, John the Apostle recognized more than 2000 years ago that impersonal communication was a poor substitute for the joy that comes with personal contact with fellow believers, stating to his fellow Christians in 2 John 12:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

His words of encouragement ring just as true today.

Prayer: Lord, we pray that our ability to visit and talk with one another face to face is restored, so we can look one another in eye – face to face – and talk out our differences – and when we cannot see eye to eye, to disagree without being disagreeable and to be reminded that others can have a difference point of view than we do and still being people of good conscience. Let us once again be able to visit and talk face to face, so that our joy in worshiping you can be complete.

Written by Sam and Brad Wood