Face to Face

Dec. 9, 2018

Micah 3:1-4

1Thessalonians 3:9-13


We are here today, face to face. And we experience one another in a more complete way, because are gathered face to face. We experience more complete communication because we are face to face. More than we can share on the phone, more than in an email, more than through texting or skype.

            The scripture from first thessalonians and Paul remind us of the importance of meeting face to face. It reminds us why we come here to church, why we meet for fellowship, why we gather for meetings. Because it is primarily through face to face gathering that our faith is activated, restored, developed, confirmed. We learn to value and treasure one another.

            This reminder is more important today in 2018 than in any other previous decade or time. When we rely on all forms of communication to make up for the fact that we can’t or won’t be able to actually get together with someone. I’ll send you an email. I’ll skype you. I will catch you on facebook. You want to meet face to face? What for?

            I walked to the post office when I lived in Wiley and noticed a familiar teenager furiously working his cell phone, paying attention to nothing else. I said “Hey, hey!” He looked up and said, “What?” I asked him what he was up to. He said, “I’m playing a game with the guy sitting in the truck over there.”

            In Paul’s time there were no cell phones, no internet. If he couldn’t be somewhere he would write a letter. And we have 13 of his letters. This epistle was drafted for th thessalonions who he had visited and knew. We have some background from other documents, that he had visited and was run out of town by the Jewish authorities. He is not writing to those people, but to the ones he has bonded to. We see this in the writing itself. [read the text]

            It is a message about togetherness in faith. It is a message that brings certain feelings to the surface: thankfulness, joy, hopefulness, grace, confidence, longing.

            Paul longs to be with these faithful people because face to face connection is where his faith is stimulated. It is where his manhood comes to life. In the face to face experience.

            I remember when my brother was drafted in 1968 and went to boot camp. Mom was worried about him and we all thought about him. I remember when he came home for Christmas and we all watched him come in, uniform, short hair, and all. We hugged and shoved each other around jokingly. My eyes were fixed on him because I had not seen him in three months. I listened for his laugh and smile, his mannerisms as we all do when someone we love returns home from a long absence.

            There is something about being in one another’s presence that cannot be replaced. And Paul’s words here help us see that importance of face to face connection in faith. We could not function without it. We are here to fulfill our responsibilities as Christians:

·        to demonstrate unity as a communition through the Lord’s supper

·        to exercise our spiritual gifts in service

·        to break bread and fellowship

·        to confess our sins to one another

·        to witness Christ in one another

We do these things by physically gathering together, face to face.

            Now some people don’t see this as all that important and they prefer to have their worship experience online. There is a new virtual reality church that promotes itself as the wave of future faith living.

            You can have church wherever you go, whenever you like. You don’t have to deal with weather, traffic, even getting dressed! It’s there all the time, just for you. No committees to work on, no boring sermons, no annoying people.

            It offers “365 billion service combinations individually designed. Click here to start church! “Created just for you every time you log in.”

            The page goes on to say, “You will experience each element of a live service as if you were sitting there. But with the convenience of participating from the comfort and ease of wherever you are.” We taylor the message for just you so you always agree with your preacher’s message!

            Need a prayer partner after the sermon, click here! Its all right there. Everything except what Paul is talking about, the face-to-face.

            I read an article in Forbes magazine about the importance of face to face communication in the business world. An article features an executive named Michael Massari, head of Ceasars Entertainment out of Las Vegas. Massari believes that face to face interacton is and will continue to be the most effective form of communication.

            In a statement the executive says, “No matter what industry you work in, we are all in the people business. Regardless of how tech-savvy you may be, face to face meetings are still the most effective way to capture the attention of participants, engage them in a conversation, and drive productive collaboration. If we don’t continue to nurture strong and positive personal relationships with our clients and coworkers, we won’t build trust.”

            A study in the Harvard Business Review revealed that 87 percent of professionals consider face-to-face communication an essential element in closing a business deal. An overwhelming 95 percent of respondents called it crucial in forming lasting business relationships.


Why Face-To-Face Meetings Are So Important

By: Mina Chang CEO - Forbes


That’s because you do business with people, not entities. The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face-to-face conversations. This is especially important for women because we’re better at picking up on body language and changing emotions that can only be sensed in person. And when a whopping 90 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues, talking face-to-face becomes more important than ever.

After all, it’s easy to misinterpret a text or email. Especially for sensitive or otherwise important communication, having tone and body language for context makes a difference. On top of that, meetings foster greater buy-in from staff and stakeholders.

A lack of in-person communication, on the other hand, means constituents miss out on the reasoning behind decisions, making them less likely to engage. What’s more, it’s easier for them to feel less accountable. When making any kind of request, the probability of getting your desired answer is greater when you have a face-to-face meeting.

Being here makes a difference in our ministries. This is where we reconnect with our faith purpose. It’s where we find our strength and direction.

            Verse 10, “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.” In our meeting together we supply what is lacking because what is always lacking is the other person of faith. In our togetherness, Christ comes to life. Christ is honored. Christ is beckoned.

            We are always longing for this togetherness, because there is always someone missing our face to face presence. Right now, there is someone missing your face to face presence. Right now there is someone’s face to face presence you are missing.

            The heart of evangelism can be found in this message. Verse 11/12, Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

            The love of Christ, drives us into relationship, into the face to face of living. In spite of how hard it can be at times, we continue to connect because that is our purpose. Our relationships are defined by what we go through together. By connecting in life. The struggles, the arguments, the joys, the discoveries.

            The work of christian faith is a work built up in our face to face connection. Especially in this time in the life of this church, it is more important than ever to share your presence with others. It makes all the difference in the world. Paul understood this and in his message, we find new meaning.

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.