“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’” (Ps. 122:1 CSB)
How often have you found yourself saying this very same thing? When Sunday morning rolls around, do you wake up with the same kind of excitement as the Psalmist? Or do you find yourself hitting the snooze multiple times, hoping you will feel up to making it to the late service? If we are honest with ourselves, if I am honest with myself, we have been in both scenarios. The weekend wasn’t restful; Monday through Friday was a grind at work; every night of the week you had a committed engagement; and now that Sunday is here, your one day off, you have the option of flipping your phone over and getting some much-deserved rest. Because, why not? You have given of yourself every day this week. God will understand. He himself rested, after all.
I want to offer up a different narrative. One that taps into the reasonings of why the Psalmist writes of his joy in going, “…to the house of the LORD.”
Why do we gather?
Simply put, we are a forgetful people. In the famous hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing it says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it / Prone to leave the God I love…” I need you and you need me to remind ourselves of the God we serve and our need for his continual grace (Duet. 4:23, 2 Kings 17:38).
We gather to encourage and be encouraged. How many times have you struggled to get to church, but then were so thankful you showed up? Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” That is one of many reasons why we believe so strongly in church membership here at Veritas. We want to covenant together to be there for each other. Life is hard and draining. Pressure to conform or be forgotten is something we all continually feel from the world. But as believers, Sunday mornings are the place where we should be able to be real and be met where we are in life.
Why do we sing?
I love to sing, which is sort of a given considering I have been able to make it part of my full-time job. Beyond that, I need to sing. I do not mean from stage, but as an everyday rhythm. I need to sing truths, because those truths impact me in a different way when they are put to a melody. I need to be reminded that God is a “Good, good Father” to me; that when trials come and I am in the deepest valley, “It is well with my soul”; and when my time comes to leave this earth I will be able to declare, “The grave has no hold on me!”
We also see singing as a command in scripture (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16). In his book, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, Harold Best writes, “A congregation is just as responsible to sing the gospel as the preachers are to preach it.” (192) We each have a role in this gathering as a participant and not just a spectator.
Where do we go?
We gather to prepare to go into a lost and dying world. Through the preaching of God’s Word and the singing of God’s Word, we are better prepared and equipped to go into the world in which we live. In a previous blog post, Worship Continual, I wrote about the importance of worship the other six days of the week. This Sunday gathering is just as important to a life that draws on worship. They are continually working together. Monday through Saturday preparing us for the Sunday gathering. The Sunday gathering giving us the tools to worship on a daily basis. Mike Cosper writes in his book Rhythms of Grace, “…when the church gathers, it gathers as a collection of people in whom God dwells. God inhabits the gathered church because these scattered worshipers are all temples, who together make a greater temple.” (79) We gather to be rejuvenated by the presence of other believers, because that presence is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday morning church should be something we as believers look forward to. When we gather, we do not gather together like we do at a sporting event or conference, but as a united body through the blood of Christ Jesus. That gives us unity where disunity would reside. It gives us peace where strife would ensue. It gives restoration where separation would remain. My prayer for us as a church would be that when we think about our weekly gathering, we have the same response as the Psalmist did in Psalm 122, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”