August 30, 2021

In September 2020, Barna reported that over 20 percent of American churchgoers had not attended any type of worship service since the pandemic started, and over 30 percent of Christians said they were watching other churches online rather than their home church.

This suggests that people are choosing to worship in “in spirit” rather than in person. After all, if Paul—from prison—could be present in spirit with the Colossians (Col. 2:5), then don’t broadband internet, Zoom, and streaming services make it easier than ever to be present in church? No. In fact, Scripture illustrates our need for embodied, gathered worship.

After the fall in Genesis 3, God removed his presence from his people. And yet throughout

Scripture we see the many ways God resolved to dwell with his people again. In Exodus 25, God instructed the Israelites to build him a sanctuary where he could dwell among them.

The tabernacle was more than a tent of meeting; it was the place where God dwelled with his

people. The tabernacle provided the wandering Israelites a structure for worship. It was a medium for God’s presence among his people when they had no permanence. They carried with them their house of worship, across deserts and decades.

They didn’t just say, “Someday when we are settled, when we are safe, then we will construct a place of worship.” No, they carried it and constructed it, over and over again: a building that was over 40 feet long with incredibly detailed design. The tabernacle represented God’s presence at the center of their lives. In the Old Testament, gathered worship became a marker of God’s people.

The Christian community is built around Christ, the new tabernacle (Heb. 8:2). He gives us his body and unites us to himself. We remember him and hope for his return when he will raise up his bride forever.  That’s a wedding ceremony that won’t be on Zoom…

I have spoken to many people who have told me, “I can pray to God at home.  I don’t need to attend church to pray.”  Yes, you can pray anywhere you like.  But do you?  A person who joins a fitness club where there is accountability is much more likely to actually get fit.  The person who, year

after year, resolves to get fit at home, usually winds up making the same resolution the following year because they had no accountability and didn’t get fit.  To attend church services is to be a part of the body of Christ.  A coal removed from the fire soon grows cold and dies.  The same is true for the Christian.  Put yourself in the midst of other Christians and you will grow warm again and grow as a Christian. 

One more thing; receiving regular Communion is essential to the Christian life.  It is one of the means of grace.  If you are not receiving Communion, you are missing out on God’s grace.  You can’t receive Holy Communion when you are sleeping in on Sunday… I’ll see you in Church! 

Fr. Paul Thompson

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