Our church has faced tremendous loss over the last four months. Devastating traumas have shaken us to the core. We’ve said “goodbye” to people, way before we have been ready. We’ve prepared for funerals that shouldn’t have needed to take place. We’ve prayed earnestly for miracles. We’ve cried tears over prayers that were answered in ways we still don’t understand.
Amidst the sadness, I’ve seen generations of believers coming together in love. I have watched two women, who lost their adult sons, embracing, decades between their losses. I have seen families stepping up to serve meals. I’ve witnessed selfless acts of giving. I have observed love in a very tangible way.
A lot of people have given up on church. So many people turn to their own version of church, claiming that the rest and refreshment on Sundays is what they are looking for and what God wants for us. Online services make it really easy to be filled and move on. It also makes it easy to fast forward through what we don’t want to hear,
One of the Ten Commandments says, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11 NLT)
Yes, it’s important to rest; it says so right there. But it also says to set it apart as holy. Holy means “dedicated or consecrated to God”. Now, I love a nap as much as the next girl, but I cannot say that my nap time is dedicated or consecrated to God. I may feel more like reading my Bible or singing praise songs when I’m rested, but there has to be an element of God to my Sabbath.
Here’s the other thing about church: It doesn’t just happen on Sundays. For my fellow Baptists, it doesn’t just happen on Sundays and Wednesday nights. The Church is a body of believers. It is the Bride of Christ. If you’re married, do you only consider yourself a spouse one day a week? Of course not; it’s a 24/7 commitment. Church happens on a random Tuesday when another member needs a ride. Church happens when a husband gets laid off and the family cannot afford groceries. Church happens when a teen mom cannot pay for Christmas gifts. Church happens when a loved one dies and you don’t know how you’ll get out of bed the next morning. These connections do not happen through a livestream.
Even though I wish I could take every hurt away from my friends, I also wish I could effectively explain the beauty of seeing God’s people acting as His hands and feet.
Acts 2:42-47 says, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” (NLT)
THIS is church. THIS is what God wants for us. Sunday mornings help us establish discipline. They help us set apart a time to learn God’s Word and to sing praises to Him in a collective way. Hearing a choir of voices gives me the tiniest glimpse of heaven, and I absolutely love it. How beautiful that sound is to God. Wednesday nights at our church are set aside for prayer. We read a chapter of the Bible together, and then we pray. We make our requests known to God (Philippians 4:6-7). The Bible assures us that when two or more are gathered in His name, He is with them (Matthew 18:20). There are other opportunities for teenagers, children, young adults, not-so-young adults, women, men, etc. to fellowship (AKA eat), learn more about the Bible, sing, and have fun. It’s usually in these “extra” church moments where we grow the most.
I know it’s kind of a joke in churches that some people only come on Christmas and Easter. But, Easter is this Sunday, and I would be honored if you joined a local church body for services. And maybe even the Sunday after that. We need each other. God wants us to love and support each other. Jesus named it among the top two things to obey (see Matthew 22:38). If you aren’t around people, you won’t know their needs, and they won’t know yours.
As we remember Good Friday today, truly reflect on the sacrifice God made for us. Sunday is coming, but it took Jesus’ death on the cross to get to the celebration of the resurrection. Remember that Jesus spent His last night on earth with His twelve disciples. Remember that it was a crowd of Jesus’ followers who stood at the foot of the cross. They comforted each other, processed with one another, and rejoiced together three days later. He recognized community, and He wants it for us, too.
See you Sunday.