I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Meeting with God
Why the Fuss about in Person Worship?
Hopewell returned to in person worship "many moons ago." Had we not had to scoot out of Hedstrom, we may have continued meeting. However, in person worship is still hotly contested in different circles.
But why does "pew sitting" matter? In the digital age, you can tune into some of the greatest speakers in the world just with a click or two. One can easily Zoom church too. Is that not soul food enough?
Even without COVID there are factors that may prevent one from going out on Sunday mornings: introvertism, scheduling conflicts, relational conflict, "they are a bunch of hypocrites," shame, and the age old "I can worship God just as well (if not better) simply by taking a walk in the woods."
In a day when gathered worship is not seen as vitally important, we need to rejuvenate our understanding of worship's true nature. In sum, what you get in worship is much different from what you may get through your screen or at home. Consider the following...
1) Public Worship Maximizes His Glory: While it is true that you can meet with God at home, God is most glorified in the context of corporate worship. It is truly different to sing in the confines of your house, where no one will hear or see. But when you acknowledge God publicly, in front of witnesses, the Lord receives greater honor. You "declare His glory among the nations" (Ps. 96) and enlarge the praise by virtue of an enlarged witness.
2) Public Worship Maximizes His Blessing: In Ex. 20:24 the Lord gave instructions about building an altar. Right after it he says, "Wherever I cause my name to be honored (i.e. in public sacrifices and worship), I will come to you and bless you."
What does this mean? It means that greater blessings are to be found where God is openly and corporately acknowledged. While there is always a risk of sickness, there is also the blessing of increased health, protection, joy, economic security, etc. A people (and possibly even a whole community) may enjoy His bountiful favor when a group of people gather together to exalt him.
3) Corporate Worship Maximizes His Interests: We Americans like our individualism and (as a result) tend to focus on what we want or what we get out of things. But have you thought about the Lord's interests?
God commanded His people to convene at the temple 3 times a year. He wanted them to drawn near to Him as a corporate body in week long increments. Psalm 87 states that the Lord loves the gates of Zion (where corporate worship takes place) more than the dwellings of Judah (where individual and family worship takes place).
In sum, God is absolutely fanatical about his people gather together in person to fellowship, worship, and learn.
4) Public Worship Maximizes His Presence: In the context of gathered worship, the Lord draws near to His people in a special way, particularly during the celebration of the Lord's Table.
Of the Communion service Paul says, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (emphasis added) When we come together at the Lord's Table there is a real, spiritual meeting with Christ, where he draws near to affirm His promises and apply the benefits of his mediation.
5) Public Worship Maximizes His Loving Nurture: In the book of Revelation Jesus is depicted as standing amid the lampstands (i.e. the churches). He had drawn close to those bodies to minister his encouragements and discipline.
Hebrews 10 says that we should not neglect gathering that we may be stirred up by one another. Colossians 3 talks about how the Lord works through corporate singing to teach and admonish His people.
While there can be great gains through individual worship and study, the Lord puts a significant emphasis upon the spiritual socour that one gains in a gathered context.
To be sure, in person worship may not be possible for some (be it illness or some other providential hindering). These small exceptions more serve to prove the ordinary rule than mitigate against it though.
Yet these points are but a few reasons why there should be a earnest interest in gathering personally and corporately for worship. These examples also serve to show that Scripture puts a high emphasis on mimicking the gathered multitudes in heaven each Lord's Day.
Sunday Night Fellowship!
You're invited to join us at 6 pm this Sunday evening at Hedstrom. We'll be starting an informal time of worship and study. The time will consist of prayer, song, and study. We'll be focusing our attention on the OT Prophets. Children are welcome
Take the Next Step @ Hopewell
Have you been thinking about affiliating with Hopewell? Is your child ready to profess faith and/or be baptized? In September we will be receiving new members into our fellowship. So let us know if you would like to learn more or take the next step in your walk with Christ.
Want to Talk? Let's Connect!
Is there something weighing on your soul? Do you have some questions you'd like to ask? Or are you just interested in grabbing a coffee and enjoying a time of fellowship? Let us know; our leadership is always happy to meet up.