WORSHIP GATHERING IS LIKE FAMILY
Hebrews 10:19-25 reminds us that we are to assemble regularly. Gathering is important! Jesus knew about gathering. He often gathered those who followed Him. He left us with a reminder of the significance of our continued gathering for worship at the table. He told us that He would Himself be present with us when we gathered. He told the Father that He would sing praises in our gathering.
Do this in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (Matt 18:20)
I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises. (Hebrews 2:12)
I come from a close family. I have two sisters and one brother. Growing up in our home was fun. We loved one another, and for the most part looked forward to being together. Of course there were times we did things that got on each other’s nerves, but practiced forgiveness and patience (usually). I can’t say that I was thrilled at getting together through my whole life, because there were times, such as during teen years that I thought I had other things to do…other friends, girlfriends, sports, other priorities.
But even when my attitude was not the best, when we gathered I was welcomed. My family wanted me to be there…without me it was not the same …it was not a complete gathering. The welcome was not conditional on having a great attitude, or being an obvious contributor to the gathering. I, like everyone else present, was simply welcome, and we all knew it.
The older I get the more I cherish the opportunity of family gathering even though they become more difficult to schedule. I realize that I never know when some member may be there for the last time. In 2005 our dad passed away and went to heaven. Everytime we gather I miss him in a special way, because I remember his presence there. I have full confidence in the promise that He is in heaven and I will see him once again, but I still miss him. Family gatherings remind me of his presence and his absence.
My own children are now grown and making homes and families of their own. When they come home to gather it is a feast! It is a banquet, a time of great celebration. One of our favorite things to do when we are gathered is to REMEMBER. We may make fun of each other, watch home videos (which leads to making fun of each other), we laugh out loud. Our grandchildren are catching on to this spirit. I especially love to watch the grandchildren laugh when adults are laughing, even though they may have no idea what we are laughing about. They just like to join the laughter. In truth, they do understand the spirit of our celebration. To me it is holy laughter.
A few years ago I had some health problems that could have brought an end to my life on earth. While I was not in real fear for my life, I did see a kind of fear in the eyes of my wife and grown children. At the time it seemed like a concern that one that they depended on to be there might not be there for them. That scared me…not for me…but for them. I prayed for the Lord to leave me here in this life…to continue the gathering rhythms. He has blessed with that grace.
If something were to happen to one of our children, or grandchildren or inlaws, it would bring a sadness to us as we would miss them at our gatherings.
This is all true in the family of faith as well. God has made us His children. Gathering is both a verb and a noun in relation to Christian worship.
It is a verb – it’s what we do – we gather
It is a noun – it is who we are – the gathered
We cannot worship in community without GATHERING.
God calls us to gather. We need to be reminded that our gathering is not just a decision we have made on our own, or a privilege in which we can engage at will. God calls us. In fact, the church is known as those who are “called out” ecclesia means “the called out ones.” We are defined and identified by our gathering. While the building where we gather is not the church, it is the place we gather and thus tends to be identified as the church.
God inhabits the praise of His people. (Psalm 22:3) The gathering of his people cannot be overstated.
As worship leaders we must never think of gathering as less than what it is…
The response to God’s call to worship Him. The coming together of the body of Christ … many members, one body
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