“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Someone recently told me she didn’t attend church because her faith was “private” and not something she needed to share with others. Perhaps she meant that her time of private prayer and study of God’s word was sufficient, and she didn’t need the help and encouragement of the church, but scripture seems to disagree with this viewpoint. Of course, our relationship with Christ is very personal and we know each individual is a beloved child of God, but as Christians, we are called into relationship with other members of God’s family – Christ’s body on earth – the Church. So, we don’t go to church, we are the Church. Our individual spiritual practices are important because they strengthen and prepare us for the spiritual work God has called us to do as a community of faith, but they are just the beginning. Brian McLaren in his book “Finding Our Way Again” says, “If spiritual practices are actions within our power that help us become the kinds of people who can do things currently beyond our power, then “going to church” means… engaging in a kind of group workout.” Being the Church isn’t a solo art or sport, it’s a team action. You need to work as an individual to stay personally spiritually fit, but then you bring your fitness into the whole community to practice as a team. A violinist practices alone for her role in the symphony, but that doesn’t take the place of practicing with the whole orchestra. And basketball games are won only when the athletes come together to practice and play as a team. Our worship liturgy and traditions help us maintain our spiritual health and strength, and hopefully stretch and challenge us to new levels of health and strength, balance, and performance. When the writer of Hebrews encourages Christians not to give up meeting together, it is to strengthen them so they might live faithful lives, telling others the Good News of Jesus Christ even in the face of opposition and hostility. We live today in a world that seems increasingly hostile to the teachings of Jesus and we need the encouragement of the church community to live faithfully and well. As we greet each other each week, pray, sing, confess, listen to the word of God preached, and respond with our offering, we are participating in a holy workout. We are strengthening our spiritual muscles to live faithfully as God’s people and tell others about the hope we have in Jesus. Let us not give up meeting together!
Prayer: Holy God, you have called us your beloved children and made us part of your family. Remind us how much we need the love and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as we seek to live faithful lives and share your light and love with others. Amen