Reflections on Gathering

Tonight our church will gather for a special event commemorating 25 years of God’s faithful work in our midst. In times like this am mindful, as I’m sure you are, of the many who have gone before and made a way for us. It is a privilege to be where we are today, and we stand ready to reap a harvest that we did not plant. That should make us very grateful.

When the Church gathers, it becomes something unique and powerful. The Church is the continuation of Christ’s work on the earth, the present and ongoing reality of the incarnation. God became man in Christ to accomplish victory over death and sin and the Devil. The Church is the incarnation of Christ’s work to carry out that victory. Through the Church, his body, Christ accomplishes his redemptive work to reconcile all things to himself (Col. 1:20).

We are one body with many members, a vine with many branches. A bunch of branches that are separate don’t make a vine, they make firewood. We are meant to be what we are together. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). But if he is the vine and we are the branches, we are just as much members of each other as we are members of him. Many members, but the same body (1 Cor. 12).

And so when we gather together, not just in the mystical/spiritual union that we share, but in a physical place, whether it’s on Sunday or a Friday, in a church or a Jazzercise, we become something that is impossible in any other circumstance. We become the Bride. When we join our voices together as well as our hearts, we look around and see before our eyes a visible representation of a spiritual reality. We witness the incarnation of God’s presence, the manifestation of his promise to make us one in him (John 17:22).

Tonight I anticipate a wonderful experience of worship, not just as we look back at what God has done in the past, but as we get a glimpse of what he will do in the future. These are uncertain times, but they are also exciting times, and there is no better place to be than in God’s house with God’s people following his plan for his Kingdom.

So remember as you gather, wherever you are, you are the church.