This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” (Jeremiah 18:1-2)
The latest easing of social distancing measures brought much cheer in letting families gather in larger numbers. In Cornerstone, our ever-faithful Facilities Team again re-arranged the seating with joy, anticipating a larger congregation, now that we can. Just the thought of it makes me smile, seeing more of you, meeting folks I’ve not seen for some time due to circumstances. The weekend’s starting to feel like family reunion again.
While our members heartily embraced the ticketing system – even with tickets running out in mere minutes – this seemingly healthy situation in Cornerstone is not always reflected elsewhere in the Body of Christ.
Surveys consistently tell of falling church attendance since the pandemic and a significant number of those polled had no intention to return. But, if they attend online services, not just at the weekend, but also watch sermons by preachers in various parts of the world during the week, isn’t it a good thing that people are learning and growing whether they attend church physically or not?
The revered Bible teacher David Pawson shared this anecdote: Two cheeky little boys were in church. When the offering bag came round, one boy put his hands into the bag and took out two coins. He grinned and asked his friend, “What did you get out of it?”
We laugh but, at one point or another, you and I do the same, not with the offering but we may walk away from a cell meeting or service with the thought: “I didn’t get anything from it today.” Thinking that we come to church to get instead of give, we behave just like that boy.
Herein lies the difference between seeing Church as a body of believers coming together to worship the Lord, and seeing her as merely a place to hear a great message.
We meet because it’s God’s command for us – it’s His idea, not ours. It’s not for our sake, nor for others – but for the Lord. He enjoys a good service and a good cell meeting. And if it’s for our King, it’s worth our coming together.
That’s why worshipping at home alone seems quite inadequate for me. There are Christians who are not committed to any cell community, but claim they get just as much out of a YouTube sermon as being in a physical service. Why is that inadequate? Because inevitably, you don’t give much, that’s why.
One of my most enduring memories of church is the altar call. There were times when so many rushed forward to receive a touch from God, to have the minister lay hands on them, and have a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit.
We’ve witnessed and participated in so many impactful moments where there was not enough room at the altar, not enough blankets to hand out, not enough tissue paper to wipe away the tears, and not enough time to minister to each person.
Physical places carry significance. Where you were proposed to, the hospital your children were born in, the schools we attended – these all carry their own special meaning to us. Places are meaningful to God too. Sometimes He gives specific instructions on where His servants were to go to receive instruction or promises from Him.
I believe Cornerstone is such a place to many of us. This is where dreams are first conceived, promises made, covenants established, and sins exchanged for grace.
If church is a cinema, you’ll find YouTube sufficient.
If church is a teaching class, Zoom would do.
But if church is a family of believers, you’ll long to gather in person.
To be able to look one another in the eye, to exchange a smile, a brotherly embrace, a prayer, all in the name of our dear Lord Jesus. There’s so much I miss and look forward to.
That’s why I’m excited about the weekend. I look forward to gathering with you, my family, for our next weekend church reunion.