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I never thought I’d be excited about going to the Spar. But lockdown has reoriented my pleasures. And so when Jill asks, “Would you mind going to the shop?” my heart leaps, like the first time I held her hand: “Wow, what a thrill!”

Sending me to the shop at the best of times can be dangerous. I usually get the wrong thing and/or too many other things. But these days, well, let’s just say that I try to unpack the bags before Jill sees the extras. You see, being “set free” is so exhilarating that it seems that I should take advantage of it. The longer I shop, the longer I can enjoy “liberation,” which explains my sojourn down each aisle.

It seems a waste of freedom to simply pick up a head of lettuce, a half dozen bread rolls, and some milk. No, one must not be a poor steward of this opportunity. Therefore, I check out the drain cleaners and the various canned goods. Paper goods? Can never have enough. It’s also helpful to know the price of baby food. After all, perhaps one day we will be able to see the grandbabies; we must be prepared. I also check out the price of candles, just in case Eskom ever gets back to loadshedding. And so it goes from aisle to aisle: Grab a pack of biscuits here, some crisps over there, perhaps some fruit (so I don’t feel guilty) and a candy bar (all this walking requires an energy boost).

Having spent considerable time, and not wanting my wife to worry that I’ve been kidnapped, I head to the cashier, take my bags and head forlornly to my car, sighing along the way, “Perhaps tomorrow, ‘I shall return.’” Ah, the simple things in life.

Like you, I’m learning lots in these days, and one lesson is that I must stop taking things for granted—like the ability to travel from here to there. After lockdown, it should be a long time before I complain about traffic.

I can also mention, taking a walk in my neighbourhood, helping the plastic collectors each Tuesday with my contributions, grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend, and heading out for a training run. All these and more are things that I hope I will appreciate to a greater degree in the months ahead. But there is one thing that I hope none of us will ever again take for granted: the gathering of the saints on the Lord’s Day.

I spoke on the phone today with a church member who broke down in tears as we spoke about not being able to gather with our church family. I was moved by his passion for our church. It made me long all the more for that day when we will be able to gather to sing God’s praise together, to pray together, to read God’s word together, to listen and to learn together, to break bread together, to bring in new members together, and to share together what God has taught us in these days.

Brothers and sisters let’s be asking the Lord to help us to come out of lockdown with a greater appreciation to gather with one another as a local church. May our hearts resonate with the psalmist: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1). Now that will be a thrill.