From the early Church, there has been a natural gathering of saints. Directly after Pentecost, the three thousand “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). As the Apostle proclaimed the gospel to many cities, people came to salvation and gathered in those areas. Over the course of the Apostles’ ministry, the gathering of believers grew. Testimonies of this are the many books of the New Testament written to churches, and in many of those letters are instructions and exhortations for their gathering.
Always in this nation has been the privilege to gather and worship God. With national and local laws restricting the gathering of people, it has brought a set of new challenges for all churches in the US. Many churches have opted not to gather and are livestreaming services. Though we praise God for providing such means, there is nothing quite like the physical Sunday gathering of a local church.
Though we can talk about if we should or shouldn’t gather, what I want to bring forth is this; the local church’s’ gathering should be a treasured privilege.
In God’s wisdom, he has not only baptized us to life but also into “one body,” the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). By the will of God, he has provided the local church for his children as “means of grace” to care, encourage, bless, strengthen, and sanctify. Using Pastor/Elders, Deacons, and Members, God cares for the well-being of his children. Using words, God encourages his children through others. Through church finances and fellowship God blesses his children. Through Pastors preaching and teaching the Word of God, he strengthens and sanctifies. The local church, in its leaders and members, is the instrument of God to strengthen faith and conform believers to the image of the Son. Oh! What a treasure the church is!
It is a treasured privilege to gather with a local church! With the backdrop of these times, I hope that we realize and treasure our gatherings. When things are normal and routine, we tend to lose their significance, but when our world is turned upside-down, we begin to realize their value. Maybe we have enjoyed our Sunday Worship services all too routine that we have discounted the value of them. May our absences from the body of Christ breed forth a treasuring of our gatherings and our fellow members!
I grew up attending church weekly, so to miss one Sunday makes me feel void of something. Now, as a pastor, even when on vacation I still show up to “work” (church). And when away from home, I try to find a place to worship with a local church but can’t wait for the return to my church. Now that we have been restricted to gather the craving of fellowship is ever so eager; the handshakes and conversations are truly missed.
In the void of our gatherings, I pray that we see the true value of Sunday Services and treasure them. Let us not discount this privilege, but let us receive it as God’s gracious gift. May we treasure each conversation, song, message, child, elder, leader, and member. I pray that you will treasure God and his church. I pray that your children will too.
To the members at Calvary, we truly miss you, this is how we always feel in any absence, but with much anticipation, we long for our “comeback” gathering on Sunday. We are praying for your health, safety, and sanctification during this time.
“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
By Pastor Paul