Returning to church after a long time away can be an emotional experience, as some of us felt at this week’s midweek service.
The concerns and restrictions from Covid-19 have meant that for many of us, the church experience has been on a screen… but now we can return, face-to-face!
At our service on Wednesday we reflected on the joy experienced by God’s people as they left their 70-year ‘lockdown’ in their forced exile in Babylon.
They ascended up the mountain to Jerusalem, and this was their experience:
When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.” Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us What joy! (Psalm 126:1-3)
They were full of joy because they had been graciously saved by God.
Even the people of other nations recognised that the Lord was the one who saved them from the punishment they deserved.
It’s a fresh reminder that grace is all from God… and that grace brings God the glory, as it did back then, and continues to do to this day.
And the way we experienced that grace today is through the cross of Christ, as we read in Ephesians:
Eph. 2:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
As we now come together, we praise God for the experience of joy, together, as we give him the glory for his rich mercy.