Being With: A Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family,

It’s safe to say that every time I am away from the pulpit at The Church at West Franklin, I miss being with you. But being away tomorrow (March 15th, 2020) will be different.

First, I want to look you in the eye and tell you it will be okay. It seems like the whole world is in panic mode – which, if we are honest, causes us to be in a panic. I want to look you in the eye and remind you that we serve a good God who is not in heaven surprised by what is going on. He’s present. He’s calm. He’s relaxed. He’s loving. He’s good. I want to be able to remind you of that.

Second, I want to laugh with, hug, shake your hand, and hear your stories from the week. I am a “touchy-feely” guy. I love to hug. I love to shake hands. I love to “be near.” I love to hear your corny jokes and share mine with you. This virus has robbed us all of that for a season. I miss it. I miss being with. I miss the pat on the shoulder. I miss having men lay hands on my back praying for me. I miss coming alongside those of you hurting and putting my arm around your neck and shoulder.

Third, I want to hear you sing. I love to hear you sing out the promises of the Gospel. I love to see you lift your hands to the Father. I love to see your facial expressions. I love to see those of you who have informed me of your unfortunate situation, sing with praise to the Lord with a smile on your face – confident in the truths of the Word. I love it when we look around at each other and – without saying a word – are reminding each other of the beautiful realities we are singing.

Fourth, I want to pray with you and lead you in prayer. More than anything in the universe, we need God. We need to talk with Him. We need to be with Him. We need to ask Him for help. We need to listen for His still, small (yet incredibly powerful) voice. We need to pray for our neighbors. We need to pray for this onslaught of virus-impact to be reversed. We need to pray for opportunities to be a Gospel light who are wondering where God is. I want to be able to pray with you. I want to pray for you. I want you to pray for me. I want us to do that together.

Finally, I want to share with you the implications of Jesus’ third word from the cross. It’s about us, the church. It’s about how we who follow Jesus have relationships that take priority to any other. It’s a reminder that when and if everything goes away (basketball, theater, toilet paper, job, health, home, loved ones, etc.) we brothers and sisters will take care of one another. I want to be with you as I remind us of this remarkable thing that Jesus is making us – His church.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The fact that we are not gathering together tomorrow is the right thing to do. I could not be more grateful for the leadership of Brentwood Baptist Church and the care and wisdom they are exhibiting. It is good. It is right. It is needed. But this whole thing has reminded me that a pastor needs to be with. A church needs to be with. Let me encourage you to lean in to the “emptiness” we feel over these adjustments of plans. Let’s be reminded that we really do need each other. And let’s ask the Father to let us be together again sooner, rather than later.

Trusting I Will See You Soon,

Pastor Matt