Community Manifesto – Worship Together

***This is the second installment of the series Community Manifesto.  You can read Part 1 here

There was a time, not all that long ago, when church was an option for me.   I would get up on Sunday mornings, with a head full of intentions but yet I could never seem to make it off the couch, explaining to my husband as I settled in with a coffee and my latest novel, that I just needed some “me” time. 

And in reality? 

I couldn’t muster the courage it took to get dressed and cover myself with a mask of self confidence.

I was hurting.  And for months I did everything I could to shove that hurt back down to the bottom of my heart.  I was too afraid to engage with community, too afraid to reach out and build lasting relationships, too afraid to let my guard down and be ministered to by others.   There is only so much burying that a person can do before the fear and the doubt bursts at the seams, and oddly enough it usually ends up leaking out the eyes.  There is only so much hiding, cocooned in your home, pressing all of that frantic “please don’t come near” into a far corner and hoping it stays where it’s placed, that a person can do.

But I found myself asking, if I didn’t want to go to church because I didn’t feel like I belonged  then how come I felt so out of place in my own home with its soft yellow walls and warm colour schemes inviting me to nestle deep and long?  And in Jacob-like fashion I wrestled with this question.  I grappled with trying to understand how God could possibly want me in a place where I no longer felt safe, where I no longer felt connected to Him or his people.  How is it that this, church, should be part of my life?

It took me a while to realize why I felt so utterly alone.  I had stepped outside of the greater narrative of God.  I had stepped outside of the story, the purpose, the plan that He had for me.  My connection to God is linked to my connection with others.  My acceptance of His grace and mercy is intrinsically linked with my acceptance of those with whom I engage in community.  The very essence of the saving gospel is intertwined with other members of the body of Christ.  Community is a natural extension of our salvation.  To ignore it, to ignore this gathering together, is to ignore our reason for being. 

We were created to worship.  We were created to exalt praises that honour and glorify God, because this pleases Him.  John Piper writes, “The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echoes of His excellence in the praises of His saints.” 
God delights in us.  Let me say that again — God delights in us.  He relentlessly pursues His delight while basking in our praises to Him.   It is only fitting then that we make it a habit to come together as one body, unified under Christ, to let our praises echo through our hearts as a community that is seeking to firmly entrench themselves in the pages of God’s story.


No wonder my home felt uncomfortable on those Sunday mornings when laziness and good coffee beckoned.  It wasn’t guilt that my spirit was feeling and it wasn’t conviction about my not taking the time to make the Sabbath holy.  No, my soul was searching for the sound of praise and longing to find its way back home.  Back to the story that God has written for me.

 

So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of His sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The ‘curtain’ into God’s presence is His body.
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19-25 MSG)

7 Comments

  1. Awesome!! God delights in us and delights to see us worship together. We struggled for a long time finding a church in our area. We tried and tried so many then felt lead to this one a block away from our house. It was scary at first but I miss it when we can’t go and my kids miss it and love it!!

    • Jennifer, I am so glad that your family found a church, a place to “do life” together with others… and so glad that you found a place where you feel safe entering into God’s presence.

  2. I’m so thankful you shared this today over at (in)courage–I somehow missed this! (and the first one)

    Have you ever heard the All Sons and Daughter’s song: Called me Higher. This reminds me of that beautiful song.

    Because I could just sit and stay in the safety of my home…but He’s called me higher. for His glory, He wants me to reach out and risk my heart for Him.

    You know what I’ve discovered, alongside you? It’s worth it…We think we’re giving, but really it’s us being blessed.

    So honored with how He has woven us together, friend! {HUGS}

    • Nikki… I too am grateful for how God has brought us together and ummm… I just left a small novel at your place telling you the same. I have not heard of that song but I am going to find it… Community is worth it and I love what God is showing me as I being to embrace it… Love and many hugs to you too friend.

  3. Tonya, preach it, girlfriend! There is so much truth here that speaks loudly to me. I’ve always been in church, am a crazy extrovert, but know that when I am outside of God’s will nowhere is comfortable. So blessed that you linked this. I had missed it the first time as well. Looking forward to being in skin covered community with you before you know it!!

    • Amy, Thank you for taking the time to provide encouragement here… I too friend am looking forward to hugging necks in real life!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

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