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This morning we looked at why we have chosen to meet again in person, given that there are still Government restrictions which affect what we can do during our services. Primarily, despite the restrictions, we meet together because God has commanded us to do this: church is His idea and Heb 10:24-25 reminds us that we should not give up meeting together. Secondly, we are glad to meet together in His name, because He has promised to be with us when we do this. (Matt 18:20) The Almighty God has promised to be with us and, as Garry said recently, when we come together with hope and expectation, we can expect God to meet with us in power, to speak with us, to convict, encourage and instruct us.
The early church ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ (Acts 2:42) These are the essential elements when we gather together. We need to spend time speaking and listening to God and to His word, because these things guide us through life. We also need to worship Him, and this involves far more than singing. “Worship is centering our mind’s attentions and our heart’s affections on the Lord.” (Bruce Leafblad) Marva J. Dawn said, “Our worship services need to immerse us in God’s splendour.” We meet together not simply to be sociable (although fellowship is key to our encouragement and growth) but to focus our attention on God. Rom 12:1-2 reminds us that we must give all our lives to God as an offering; this is our spiritual act of worship.
Our gathering together must make room to speak to God and about God and must give space for God to speak to us. He can do that through music, through silence, through preaching, through the gifts of the Spirit, through the reading of His words, through the words of His people as they share all He has been doing and saying. He can do that as we live our ordinary lives and break bread together. We may well have to adapt at times and do things differently (God is a God of the new thing, as Is 43:19 reminds us), but what is important is that we gather together to honour God. He never changes (Mal 4:2) and is still a loving, merciful, good, kind, just, generous and forgiving God who deserves all our praise!