Day 30: Why Should We (Still) Gather?
Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe! Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “We open our mouths… ” As you exhale, whisper,“…to encourage and praise.”
Slowly read aloud the following Scriptures
(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)
So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of His sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is His body.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His Word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the Big Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25, MSG)
For further exploration:
Abba Father, we thank You with all of our hearts as we meet with Your people. Your deeds are so amazing; all who delight in You should ponder them. Everything You do reveals Your glory and majesty. Your righteousness never fails. You are wonderful and Your Name is highly exalted. You are worthy of all our praise. You are worthy of the glory, honor and power. Lord, the heavens declare Your glory and the skies display Your craftsmanship. Lord, we thank You for righteous fellowship among the believers in our church and beyond. We thank You for ordering our steps in Your Word. Thank You for the events, activities and programs at our local churches that help to create fellowship within our Church Family. We are grateful for our fellowship and communion which we have with You, our Father, Jesus, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Sustainer. Lord, You are an awesome God.
Mighty Father, Your will is for us to dwell together in unity. As the Body of Christ, we declare that we will think of ways to motivate one another through acts of love and good works. We will not get tired of doing what is good for each other. As a result, we expect to reap a harvest of blessing at the right time. We will not give up and at every opportunity, we will do good to everyone—especially to those in our family of faith. We will not neglect our meeting together, but we will encourage one another in the faith. Iron sharpens iron so we confess that we will surround ourselves with those who have the mind of Christ so that we are positioned to glorify You in our public and private lives. Father, You asked us to meet together with Your people. We confess that we will engage in righteous fellowship through our churches and social gatherings and forsake all that will deter us from fulfilling Your will. Father, we confess that we are blessed because we do not follow the advice of the wicked, stand around with sinners or join in with mockers; but our delight is in Your Word. By faith, we declare that we are as trees planted along the riverbanks that bear fruit each season and we prosper in all that we do. We will be doers of Your Word and not hearers only. We will fight for righteous fellowship and we will win. Lord, we decree that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ!
Holy Spirit, show me how to strengthen the Godordained relationships in my life. Show me those relationships that I need to end and give me the strength to end them:
Holy Spirit, we ask that You align our relationships with Your will in our homes, churches, jobs and communities. Holy Spirit, show each of us how to organize our calendars and schedules so that godly fellowship is more of a priority. Send godly friends to those who are lonely. Help us and our churches to set the example of what righteous fellowship looks like. Knit our hearts closer together. Lord, help us to be obedient as You order our steps. Give us the power to crucify our flesh and walk in Your light. As we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to drop our gossip buddies, smoking buddies, promiscuous buddies, club-hopping buddies and anyone who the devil may use to keep us from glorifying God through our fellowship with the righteous. Holy Spirit, heal the wounds of those who were hurt by people in the church. Rebuild confidence in You and Your creation: the Church. Holy Father, lead them to the community of faith You have chosen for them. Help us to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify You, our Heavenly Father.
Merciful Father, forgive us for our sins. Forgive those who do not participate in Godly fellowship. Forgive those who do not honor and participate in Your institution, the Church. Forgive those for the unrighteous relationships that keep them from Your best for their lives. Forgive those who are disobedient when You have told them to end certain relationships and they refuse to do so. Forgive all of us for putting our work, including ministries, in front of family and friends. Forgive us for all acts of sinfulness, including: hatred, rebellion, murder, idolatry, sexual sins, greed, racism, injustice, and violence. Forgive us for the works of the flesh and the pride of life. Forgive us for having fellowship or relationship with anything that is not of You. Forgive us for the doors that we may have opened through poor decisions. Help us to know that there is no condemnation to those of us who are in Christ and that as we confess our sins, we are forgiven and that You remember them no more. Father, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed.)
Holy Spirit, remind us of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, You are to be praised forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, power, glory, victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours. This is Your Kingdom, Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is at Your discretion that people are made great and given strength. O Lord our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture References for Written Text: Psalm 111:1-3, Revelation 4:11, Psalm 19:1, Psalm 133:1, Hebrews 10:24-25, Proverbs 27:17, Philippians 2:5, Psalm 111:1, Psalm 1:1-3, James 1:22, Romans 8:37, Matthew 5:16,
Romans 8:1, Isaiah 43:25, Matthew 6:13, I Chronicles 29:10-13
Concepts to Consider
The most straightforward answer to “Why Should We (Still) Gather?” is that by physically gathering on a regular basis we reflect the complex unity that is the Triune God into the world around us.
Indeed, all of our ordinary activities (work, feeding pets, cooking, washing the car, waiting in the carpool line, etc.) can be moments infused with worship as we take time to acknowledge God’s presence in the midst of it all. However, even these more private moments are all meant to flow from the “common life” nature of our Faith (Acts 2).
Notice, again, the individual yet communal worship language present in Paul’s general instructions to the Roman church:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship [and reasonable service.] … For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them….
(Romans 12:1-6, ESV)
The Church is both a symbol pointing to and an embodiment of who we are in Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:9). As we worship together we symbolize God’s desire for unity among His people (John 17:11), and we are charged to embody the work that Jesus started (He who began a good work in you [all] is able to complete it… Philippians 1:6). Our Kingdomproclaiming assignment that we share with Jesus (our co-mission) starts at a table (gathering to worship), leads to a cross (humility) and walks upright (renewed life) into the world, nourished and empowered by His gracious Spirit to “be Jesus” among the people who intersect our paths every day.
(Note: The above is not a teaching against online church. It is merely a caution to not make the virtual world our primary means of interacting with the Body of Christ. Worship is not a “spectator sport.” We are challenged in the Word to participate in our salvation process, not just passively sit, listen, and hope for the best (James 1:22). While genuine community can certainly be created online, as human beings made in God’s image, we are still inherently designed to need interpersonal engagement in the physical world and to participate regularly in the Household of Faith through the sharing of sacraments and the intermutual worship of our Triune God!)
Personal Reflection: We are not called to be “worship critics” or “worship consumers.” This kind of mind set misses the grander points of why we gather to worship our Living God. How has your perception of worship been challenged? How has it been affirmed?
Kingdom Reflection: Worship is meant to connect us to the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ around shared relationship, liturgy, and Word. How does realizing that our worship is communal and transcendent affect your understanding of corporate worship?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture passages you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Scriptural word, phrase, or image. You may want to set a timer