I had a conversation with an old acquaintance in the previous week and we were discussing availability of schedules. He suggested Sunday morning, to which I was a bit confused and asked him “don’t you have church?” He replied that his church had replaced their Sunday service with a Saturday evening service, and that they therefore had the Sunday off to celebrate the 4 July festivities. After a bit of back and forth, I asked him to join our Sunday church service instead and then we could catch up after lunch.
I’ve heard similar stories of churches postponing or cancelling their services for holidays (I knew of one where they didn’t have a Sunday morning service on December 25 to accommodate for family time), or where instead of the traditional church hymns, patriotic songs were used during the service. Are these “one-off” practices a way to bring some context to the church service, or do they point towards a more fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of corporate worship & gathering on the Lords day?
Hebrews 10:25 says that we should not “give up meeting together”, but it is important to see why that is the case. Looking back throughout the previous verses and chapters in Hebrews, we are reminded of the atoning work that Christ has done in contrast with the Old Testament rituals. No longer are we reliant on multiple imperfect sacrifices, Christ was offered as a one-time sacrifice and has forgiven all of the sins for those who believe in Him. Because of this good news we now have the confidence to approach God, and this provides an unwavering hope that we can fully rely on. We are called to encourage one another to remind each other of this truth and that’s why we gather together spurring one another towards love and good deeds, and supporting each other to not continue in our past sinful ways.
There are reasons as to why we may avoid attending the local church gathering (for instance if we are sick it may not be a good idea to attend and infect everyone!), but these should not be regarded as the norm, rather we should feel a sense of longing, discomfort even for not being able to gather together. This truth should ring especially more after we’ve experienced the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, with some of our brothers & sisters around the world still barred from gathering. And when we do gather, we need to be abundantly clear that we are gathering together because of God, and therefore He should be our object and center of worship. This is why we strongly believe in “God-centered worship” as opposed to “man-centered worship”.
Don’t get us wrong, in the context of July 4th, patriotism in itself is not a bad thing, in fact we think it’s pretty good to feel that sense of pride for our nation (even if we can also recognize its flaws). However as Christians we believe that the worship & obeying the commandments of God is greater and that there is a prescribed time and place for that on our Sunday worship. This principle applies universally, let’s not forget that and treasure the time we have to encourage one another towards the hope that we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
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