Together at last
There's something about the last few weeks that's been pretty amazing. We've slipped into a new normal as predicted. People are getting together again. Finally. Our church services are getting fuller, our roads are busier, and our shopping districts are starting to thrive again. But there's always someone away. Someone missing. There's always someone with Covid, or the flu, or a sore throat that could be anything. There's always a chance that we'll have to stay home for a bit longer. But despite all of that, it's still pretty amazing to be able to meet back together regularly.
After Jesus died and the body went "missing" (because he rose from the dead!) the disciples were in hiding. They were living in fear and confusion. But then Jesus ascended and sent the Holy Spirit. And the church exploded. Gifts of tongues of fire, the proclamation of the gospel, and a massive number of converts.
38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”40With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
It was an extraordinary time. It was a unique time of the Spirit's work on a huge scale. And then they settled into the "new normal"...
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The disciples met together. All the time. They worshipped, prayed, read the Word, and ate together. And God kept adding to their number. This was the new normal. This IS the new normal for us too. Today is not some extraordinary, unusual, unique, never-to-happen-again time. This is our normal. Gathering, worshipping, God adding to our number. Covid stopped some of this for a while, but we found other ways to gather. We did not give up meeting together, and when we HAD to stop meeting together in person, we found other ways. This is the new "normal" for followers of Jesus.
I want to encourage us to really take hold of this. Meeting TOGETHER is important. Our gathering together is more than just singing songs and having morning tea or supper, because we know that church isn't a social club. When the believers met together, they were "being" church. And God was at work amongst them. And God kept adding to their number.
God kept adding to their number.
As we gather, so much is happening. When we gather on Sunday, when we gather during the week, when we share a meal together, pray together, sing together - any time of the week - it is an amazing thing when believers gather together, because it is a special fellowship. It is a special time that is different from other meetings we have. Meeting with our brothers and sisters shapes us as believers and as the church of God.
Stay away if you're sick. Of course. That is the new normal. That's why we live stream services. We're all going to miss events and we will miss gathering occasionally. But be there whenever you can - because the fellowship of God's people, on Sunday or whenever it happens, is an absolutely amazing part of our lives under God. Don't miss out!
Heavenly Father, thank you that we can meet together again. Help us to appreciate and love the time we can be together. Help those who are still unable to gather with us. Strengthen us by your Spirit to love our fellowship together, in the name of Jesus. Amen.