Sometimes having songs so deeply embedded within your brain and heart that you can sing them almost mindlessly becomes an exercise in introspection. I was awake in the middle of the night and had “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” by Jeremiah Eames Rankin running through my head. To my surprise, when I woke up, the melody was still there.

God be with you till we meet again,
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you,
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

I think what hit me last night was the feeling that many of my teacher friends have been reflecting on… there is this sense of longing for a transition point between life as we knew it and this season of unprecedented operating. I did not get to say “See you later and stay safe,” before we were all just scattered into our homes to be the Body of Christ by… well… staying home. I worry about you. The whole staff does. We miss you.

With His sheep securely fold you…

In farming terms, a fold is a pen or enclosure in a field where livestock, especially sheep, can be kept safe. What if instead of thinking of our time apart as social distancing and isolation, we thought of this as a time where God has placed us in the fold of our homes and families so that when it is safe, we can all be released back into the field? This might help me, your pastors, and your staff feel like we have not simply been separated, but have instead trusted God to fold you in just as God is folding each one of us in.

And did you know there are other verses to Rankin’s hymn?

God be with you till we meet again,
‘Neath his wings protecting hide you,
Daily manna still divide you,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again,
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing round you,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again,
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threatening wave before you,
God be with you till we meet again.

So that’s my prayer for you today, beloved. God be with you… keep love’s banner floating o’er you.