Worship is an ancient practice, and after Jesus' death and resurrection, believers gathered to remember and support one another. They did not have a temple or synagogue as a place to come together but they understood from the beginning that gathering together was most important.
Worship form today echoes the form they came to use: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending.
In observation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for the duration of the year, we will be featuring a series of posts titled "The Whys of Worship," covering these four areas. This first post is focused on “Gathering.”
Gathering begins as believers and seekers come together to experience God, to be met by God, in sacred space. Worship is not about what we do but rather what God does, to us and for us. We gather because we need to meet God in the company of others, to publically confess our sin and need for forgiveness. We come seeking renewal by God’s grace as a community expecting God, active in our individual and in our communal lives. We come not because we are prepared and perfect; in fact we come for the opposite reasons. We gather as we are and as best we can to receive God’s promises declared in Worship.
In Gathering, a prelude helps us focus on worship and prepare for sacred time as we confess, and hear forgiveness, (remembering our Baptism) we sing together, we greet one another in Jesus’ name, and we offer a prayer that collects the themes and images of the day’s lessons.
As you prepare to GATHER at worship next Sunday, remember:
“I am a part of something larger than myself”
As we gather, we are not only connecting with others in our local congregation but we are a part of the larger body of Christ gathering across the world. We also are grounded in rich tradition with roots of faith that span centuries. Take a moment to thank God for those you gather with, for our brothers and sisters gathering down the street or in countries far away, and for those that have paved the way, walking the path of faith before you.
“We grow best in community”
This is one of our values at Saint Luke. Who has invested in your faith? Perhaps it was a Sunday School teacher that sang songs of Jesus’ love with you, a confirmation leader that patiently helped you navigate through your questions about God, or a neighbor that welcomed you into their life sharing with you their story of faith? It is a gift to grow together. Be on the look out for ways to nurture the faith of those around you this week.
“God is gathered with us”
With this great reality in mind, as you gather for worship consider these two simple questions: “What is God doing?” Pay attention. Notice Him among you. Then, reflect and ask, “How do I respond?”
May you be awestruck by your place in a faith spanning centuries and continents. May your heart be enriched by those in your life and may you too enrich the lives of others. May you gather together knowing that God is with you and may His presence fill you with great joy.
Special thanks to Liz Harmon for her contributions to this post. Liz serves in a variety of ministries at Saint Luke, including Nifty Fifty and Needles & Pins.