It has been rough not being able to gather together for worship for two Sundays in a row because of inclement weather. I have heard several people comment that the rest of their week just does not seem to go as well when they are unable to begin their week with church. This is no coincidence. Gathering together with fellow believers for corporate worship is important for several reasons. Among them are:
- We were made to praise God. If you don’t like praising God, then heaven is going to be a real drag for you! When we lift our eyes from the concerns of the moment to praise the God of eternity, our perspective on our current situation changes.
- When we look at the creation stories in the opening chapters of Genesis, we see the drumbeat of God surveying the fruits of the day’s creative labors and pronouncing the verdict that “it was good.” Have you ever noticed the dramatic exception to this pattern – the first situation that was pronounced to not be good? “Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone.””(Genesis 2:18 CEB) In other words, we were made for community – not for isolation!
- Gathering in Christian community provides us with two essential elements to our ongoing spiritual vitality: mutual support and accountability. I remember the old story of a pastor who went to visit a church member who had been conspicuously absent from worship for several weeks. It was an awkward visit on a cold winter day, and they sat wordlessly in front of the fire. The pastor reached for the fire tongs and took an ember from the fire and placed it by itself on the hearth. They watched silently as the ember quickly cooled and died. He returned it to the fire, and it immediately began to warmly glow again. Not a word had been spoken, but the man the pastor had come to visit said “I got the message pastor. See you Sunday.” I am also reminded of the old saying from the Eastern Orthodox tradition: “Any fool can get into hell all by themselves, but you only get into heaven as a part of a community.”
The long-range weather forecast for next month is still a bit troubling, but the forecast for this weekend is for Sun and a high temperature well above freezing. Let us all make a special effort to gather together for worship!
Grace and Peace,
Last night at Shepherd’s Table, Carolyn Shields shared with me the following poem that she composed Sunday morning, expressing her frustration that the weather had prevented her from being able to go to church.
by Carolyn Shields
I woke this morning and received a call
there will be no church at all
Our ground was icy without much snow
But icy conditions made traffic slow
Winds were blowing at an insane pace
Time to stay home and rest in place
I had my breakfast and said grace
Surely God was in this place
His blessings were evident all around
Food, shelter, and quiet peace abound
Ground still covered with a coat of white
Surely was a beautiful sight
We can remember that God is near
With his love there is no fear.
Our hearts were made as white as snow
When he forgave our sins you know
Look around and catch a glimpse of sun
Remember he is the only one
Our God is available both day and night
He always listens to our plight
Our world needs a change of heart—
And your prayers can be the start.
Enjoy this time to remember the season
Christ came down— He is the reason. \