This age-old message of hope, a blessing as old as human culture, is amplified in this time of COVID-19.
"Until we meet again" in normal time...
At one level it functions as it always has, as way to say good-bye and as a promise to reconnect at some time in the future. In many cultures and times this sentiment is linked to a divine promise; may God go with you, until we meet again..
For me, and others of Irish descent, it is shorthand for the so-called "Irish Blessing":
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
It certainly functions the same way for us in today's world, as a simple, and gracious, "see you later," even if "seeing" you later is by Zoom or telephone or through a pane of glass.
"Until we meet again" in COVID-time...
"Until we meet again" is also a prayer for our time, a prayer that this, too, shall pass. It is a prayer that soon we will be truly together, physically together again, as friends, as co-workers, and as the church.
Meanwhile we are learning to be church in this time. But we long for the nurturing togetherness of Christian fellowship. "Until we meet again," then, is a prayer for normalcy, a prayer for physical presence in our fellowship.
One of the church's ways of saying "until we meet again" is the hymn we sang "together" last Sunday in our Zoom worship. And, if you pay attention to the text, you can see that it is also appropriate to this new function of "until we meet again" - it is a prayer for this COVID-time.
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. God be with you till we meet again, ‘neath His wings protecting hide you, daily manna still provide you; God be with you till we meet again. God be with you till we meet again, if life’s perils should confound you, God will put his arms around you; God be with you till we meet again.
And what about "hello" in COVID-time?
And of course, "good-bye" implies that there will be a time for "hello." The fact that so many of us are isolated didn't stop this adorable child from the UK from greeting imaginary friends until the real ones come back.
So, until we meet again, watch this and smile. . .(it is worth watching the advertisement!-so click the play button and wait 15 seconds or so for the ad to play).
God be with you till we meet again!