The bare trees make a silhouette on the horizon in the winter morning light, beautiful to behold in the cold, clear, crisp air. Not much traffic on a Saturday morning, a far cry from the crowded roadways on weekday commutes for most workers.
The radio news is relatively quiet, except for analysis of the still-ongoing political issues and talk about the big games scheduled for the weekend.
Being out early is a regular routine for traveling ministers, who often make trips to visit the small congregations of the Church of God that are sprinkled around the country and the world. There aren’t enough ministers for each little congregation to have its own pastor, so most of them are served by ministers who make a circuit to visit these small groups. A Sabbath visit from a visiting minister will involve a sermon based on a biblical topic, such as Christian living, prophecy, or the Holy Days—useful, practical messages that are helpful to those who are striving to live by every word of God.
Some will have questions that the minister will try to answer. Some attendees will request prayer and anointing for healing, a practice found in James 5. Fellowshipping goes on until folks must leave for their homes, sometimes quite a distance from where services are held. As they head home, most are already looking forward to the next Sabbath when they can be together again.
Why make these journeys to speak to and serve these people? There are precedents found in the Bible. Down through time, the people dedicated to following God’s way of life have often been few and scattered, as they are today.
In ancient times, the prophet Samuel regularly made a circuit to serve the people. “He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places” (1 Samuel 7:16).
Jesus also used this method: “Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching” (Mark 6:6). Later, the Apostle Paul was known for his journeys as he raised up churches and spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In 2 Corinthians 11:26, he spoke about being “in journeys often.”
Why do this? Why go to the trouble? Jesus made it plain in His instruction to the Apostle Peter before He ascended into heaven: “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter… ‘Feed My lambs…. Tend My sheep…. Feed My sheep’” (John 21:15–17).
So, all around the nation, as in many other parts of the world, there are dedicated ministers who are on the go, making regular visits to small congregations, striving to follow the instructions of Jesus Christ by feeding the flock that God has called. You won’t find these little flocks in large church buildings or in sumptuous surroundings. Mostly, they meet in rented halls, realizing that a church is not a building but the people in the building.
At the end of the day, the bare trees make a beautiful silhouette on the evening winter sky as the circuit-traveling preacher makes his way home, tired, but happy to have been of service to a little flock that was eager to hear what he had to bring them on the Sabbath day.