“… For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:20

What does it mean, to “gather?”

In the days before Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, a.k.a. COVID-19) we thought we knew what it meant to gather.

The dictionary says it means, “to bring together into one body or place.”

Nobody would have asked, “Do you mean we’re all going to go to the same physical location?” if we’d said we were going to “gather” for meeting or celebrating or worship or fellowship.

But that was then. This is now.

In these days of virtual meetings, virtual celebrations, virtual gatherings, we may start to notice that there are two parts to that definition:

  1. to bring together into one body
  2. to bring together into one place

We may have to start asking the question, “Does meaning (1) require meaning (2)?”

In much of our lives, we have learned that the answer is No.

Our workplaces now regularly hold virtual meetings that encompass (1) but not (2).

We’ve been treated to amazing virtual concerts on-line, in which musicians found ways to do (1) without doing (2).

The latest advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hosting a virtual gathering for Thanksgiving (1) rather than traveling to do (2).

So when Jesus says, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them,” does “gathered” always and only mean (2 -“to bring together into one place”) as we’ve always previously assumed, or might it mean (1 – “to bring together into one body”) without necessarily including (2)?

What if God sent His SARS-CoV-2 virus (and after all, it is His coronavirus, as much as we are His people and the mountains and valleys of the Earth are His mountains and valleys) … I mean, what if part of His plan is having us grow into a new understanding of what it means, to “gather” in Jesus’ name?

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