Daily Devotion 04 February 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

3 John: 13-15 ‘Final Greetings and Signing Off’

13 I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; 14 instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. 15 Peace to you. The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name.

The only book of the Bible which describes itself as written by ‘John’ is Revelation. The irony is that many Biblical scholars are pretty certain that there was one author of the Fourth Gospel (that church tradition calls ‘John’s Gospel) and the the three letters known as 1, 2, and 3 John. The Greek is too similar in style, vocabulary, phrasing in these – but Revelation is completely different. It would be like comparing four books of the Bible written by Shakespeare and another by J. K. Rowling – still written in the English language, but completely different in almost every way.

So ‘John’ (or whoever) signs off the little letter – which you can read in less than a minute – with the above. I rather like his style…I can almost imagine him thinking and writing the above all at once; the thoughts coming and the pen writing at the same time. John’s got so much to say, he can’t get it all out – but he knows he would rather see the community face to face and he tells them so. His longing mirrors ours for sure! I’ve been fortunate in seeing some of the church family this last year in person: at worship; pastorally in gardens; outside for walks; at funerals; standing two metres away dropping things off. But it’s been hard not to see the faces of many – and each one of us could reel off name after name of person we have not seen face to face, someone precious and whom we long to see again.

For those of you who are familiar with Zoom, you’ll be used to seeing the little boxes on your PC, tablet, or phone, of all the people together. For all the limitations, isn’t one of the blessings of Zoom worship that as we pray, listen, share together, that we actually look at one another’s faces? Maybe we have the seating layout all wrong at church! Why are we so content to look at the backs of heads? And on Zoom it’s not just faces we look at as we worship, but people’s names are visible too – and I suspect if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all been reminded of a name or learnt a new one. What a blessing! When we decide in the months ahead how we worship at Emmanuel in the future – what’s online, what’s in person, what’s virtual but including housebound, what’s face to face and physical – let’s make sure we plan wisely to keep what’s of value – that our worship and fellowship be enriched.

some words to offer to God based on the above scripture.

Loving God, we hope to see one another soon – be with us in our waiting and longing.
We pray for peace and comfort to those we know in need – and may it be your peace alone.
We look forward to talking together face to face – may we keep our expectations
of one another realistic, and never place burdens upon those we love.
We hope to be with our friends again – while we wait, help us to know
that you already with them, for you know each of us by name.
We offer these prayers to you, our gracious and loving heavenly Father,
through Jesus Christ your Son, and our Lord. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Paul Tabraham. Image freely available online.
A printable version of this Daily Devotional can be downloaded from here
All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356