Dear Divine Service,
I’m sorry that I even have to write this. It’s painful. I’m sure you’ve known it was coming. Maybe you didn’t. I certainly didn’t. It’s the things we take for granted, you know? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. Or, maybe you don’t know how good you have it, how greatly you’ve been blessed until something’s been taken away.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s you. It’s not! You offer so much. You’re a blessing! You bring Scripture to me. Not just in the readings. That would be enough! That’s enough to fill my heart, soul, mind, strength with God’s Word. That’s enough to sanctify me, my life, my week with His Word. No, always more with you. The parts of the liturgy, the hymns, the singing—all of it!—dripping with God’s Word for me. The Gospel of Jesus literally delivered to me, through me, for me, and for all those gathered with me. What great joy!
And sure, it’s great that there’s lots of stuff online: church services, devotions, videos. I’m so glad that God’s Word and Gospel aren’t bound. They go forth no matter what, even through computers, TVs, and phones! Even the radio for my grandma who loves you, too! But it’s not the same, you know? A screen isn’t a person. A recording isn’t a conversation.
No, it’s not you. It’s me. Well, actually, it’s my neighbors. I love them. I don’t want to harm them. But I never realized what a blessing it was to sing the Gospel for and to my fellow believers. I never realized what a blessing they were to me, singing that same Gospel into my ears and heart. Now, I love them by not gathering. My singing could harm them. Not the words or the sound, but the air I exhale could carry something harmful to them. So, for their sake—it’s painful to say—we’re gonna have to take a break.
It breaks my heart to break our fellowship. We do have fellowship when we’re together with you—fellowship in the Body and Blood of Jesus. One of the main reasons you’re a thing! You, Divine Service, can’t be much better when you’re the setting of the medicine of forgiveness and immortality that is being handed out for me and for all the disciples of Jesus gathered with me.
Oh, my pastor! I know it’s hard for him to let you go. I can’t imagine the pressure He’s under. The pressure to fulfill His calling as Pastor to deliver the Word and the Gifts of Jesus. The pressure to love the members of his congregation, to love me! Now, he’s probably putting in more work, more stress, more time to wonder and doubt if he’s done the right thing, more time to worry that he’s doing the wrong thing.
I’ll pray for him. I need to. He’s praying for me, for us all. He almost needs it more than I do! So I’m taking my cue from Jesus when He told Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” I know Jesus will answer my prayers, but they do seem different, emptier, when I’m not praying there with you. Lord, help me!
This isn’t meant to be a sob story. I just wanted to write to you, I didn’t want it to be long. I just wanted to let you know what I’ve been going through. And I wanted to say: Don’t worry. I’ll be back. This isn’t permanent. This isn’t your fault. It’s the fault of a sin-broken world that makes sin-broken people sick, who can then even make other people sick! I know the Lord will keep His promise. If He’s told us to cherish His Word and told pastors to preach and teach it, He’ll work it out to bring us together in person to hear it! And if He’s told us to eat and drink, He will surely run things so that we’ll be able to eat and drink His Body and Blood. He just has to do those things: He’s died and risen for the whole world!
But, really, I just wanted to write this to say one thing: Divine Service, I miss you.