So this morning I thought about posting these thoughts on what to do when you can't go to church (whether Pastor or layperson). Here's at least a start to a list:
- Repent - Not necessarily that any particular active sin has a straight line correlation to the sickness or other obstacle to attendance (unless you imbibed too much fruit of the vine the night before, which produced a hangover, or other such sin cause and effect). Nevertheless, the wages of sin is death (flu being one form of the proleptic nature of death... thankfully Christ works His healings proleptically too!). And where Isaiah and Nehemiah both confess not only their own individual sins, but the sins of their people, so also I think we can confess Adam and Eve's sin, without which there would be no flu. (I might need some correction on this thought - it seemed better before I thought it out loud.)
- Rejoice because you miss church. This sadness is not natural. It is a sign the Holy Spirit has been at work on you (which you know all the more so if you ever spent time avoiding church.) And especially if you are a pastor, your sorrow in missing church is a sign of blessing as indicated by Ecclesiastes 5:19, for you have been blessed by God with the gift of joy in the ministry.
- Which leads me to the next reason for praise - Rejoice because though you cannot come to church, you are blessed by Christ's ability to come to you. I only though the above thought because I heard Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 being read at Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church on KFUO-FM this morning, and then listened to a well done sermon on Psalm 84, encouraging our desire to behold the beauty of the Lord's sanctuary as we give up our false desires and come into the presence of Christ.
- If you do not have local Lutheran services broadcast, the fact that you are reading these words means you have the internet. You are probably well aware of the sermons that can be heard on this medium. Two that I check every so often are St. John-Wheaton, IL (there's a Kleinig sermon up there from a few Sunday's back) and Resurrection, Cambridge, England - though that hasn't been updated since July and only has one sermon at a time. Ft. Wayne Sem's website has a nice web interface set up for listening to weekly chapel services too.
- If you can listen to the whole service and not just the sermon, then sing with the congregation if you are able to. I suffered from being a bit short of breath, so I could only join in every so often. But I find comfort in those vows in the Psalms along the lines of "I will sing to the Lord forever" - since that must mean that the Lord is going to have to give me back my voice so I can sing eternally, because right now I can't.
- I'd recommend not wasting your time watching the stuff that passes for Christian preaching on television (which hopefully not too many of your members watch approvingly when they aren't at church). Maybe do it once to confirm what you have heard - but tape it and watch it at some other time since it probably will make you sad or mad. It won't assist you in meditation upon the Lord's mercy - so spend time online listening to solid fathers in the faith who will encourage your faith.
- And focus on it. Don't multitask. (You might not be tempted to do it, but I had to force myself to just sit and listen and do nothing else.)
- And know that you and all the sick are being prayed for by the Church this day. And those prayers are heard and answered by the Great Physician of Body and Soul, who is omnipotent, omniscient and merciful. To Him, with the Father and the Spirit, be all glory and honor forever.