We started to go back to church little by little. In small groups spread out over the whole chapel and then in larger groups but still spread out. We clean the chapel after every meeting and we are asked to not hug each other or get close. We wear out masks and don’t take them off except for a second when we take the sacrament and then they are immediately replaced.

Until we began to return to church we were taking the sacrament in our own homes. We were studying in our small families or alone. For many of us this was a great time. Some of us became closer to God and more intimate with Him. We came to know him a little better. Others of us who have little children have been relieved to not have that struggle every week of getting everyone dressed and then trying to keep them all occupied while also listening to the lesson that week. I know there is probably a third category. Maybe those who just treated Sunday as any other day and do not miss the scramble and work that church brings to them.

In all three of these groups there are probably many who are saying, “This works so well, why do we need to go back to the church building?” I think I have an idea why.

Gathering is a thing that has always been there. Now President Nelson has been repeating the call over and over again since he became the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints three years ago. We are to gather by doing family history work, gather by talking about our faith to others and gather by serving others. Part of that gathering is also serving those who have already been gathered so that we can strengthen them.

If we have a testimony of God and a relationship with him then it is our duty and responsibility to gather with others and help them to improve or grow their testimony and relationship with God. We do that through holding and magnifying our callings. We also do that through ministering to those we have been given responsibility for. These things are often easier to do when we can look someone in the eye when we ask them how they are and if there is anything we can help with – or maybe even tell them how we are going to help them. Gathering gives us community. It gives us a place to belong.

If you are like me, you have your ups and downs in your faith. You feel strong and sturdy. Your testimony is unshakeable but then something unexpected happens and questions arise. so you can see how we can be in either one of those scenarios – the strengthener or the one being strengthened – at any time over our lives.

It is our job not to be selfish. the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about serving. It is about reaching our to others. It is about using our voices. Saying your aren’t ready to return because this quarantine has been so great for your own spiritual health may, perhaps, be missing the point. The Gospel is about helping others to get their needs met and in doing so you can have your needs met also. There are those who are alone or are new or are a little shaky who need you and your voice and your helpful experience. This last year has been hard on them. They became lonelier. Zoom meetings don’t cut it for them. They need the warmth that comes from real, in person instruction and the spirit that comes with that.

In John 21 we are told:

15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, aFeed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, aFeed my bsheep.

I’m almost positive that this is in the scriptures because it applies to each of us as well as Peter. And for those of us who love in person meetings for many different reasons, we need you there with us to stand (or sit) shoulder tolder with. (well, not so close yet.) We need you to bring your strength and smile with your eyes and say a kind word. And Zoom isn’t cutting it.

All through the scriptures there is gathering and I hope you will come back and gather along with me.


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