I’m a worship leader, and whenever I get together with other worship leaders, we like to swap “war stories”, if you will. Stories of songs started in the wrong key, rogue drummers trying to insert Wipeout-like solos in the middle of a songs, vocalists who try to hit a high note and end up sounding like Ring Wraiths, and guitarists who are convinced that what the congregation really needs during “A Mighty Fortress” is an epic solo in the vein of Eddie Van Halen.
We also usually talk about a strange phenomenon that I like to call the “throw away song”. The throw away song is the first song in any worship set. Why do I call it the “throw away song”? Because the church is usually pretty empty during the first song, meaning only a few people will get to sing the first song, therefore making it a “throw away song”.
Now, to be clear, I understand that it can be tough to get to church on time. I’ve got small kids, and if I weren’t involved in worship leading, I’d probably be late to church too. But I also wonder if maybe, just maybe, we could take what happens on Sundays a little more seriously. If maybe we could treat Sundays as a little more sacred, and a little less like another thing on the calendar.
In Matthew 18:20, Jesus makes the following startling statement:
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Because of the finished work of Christ, we always have access to the full, immediate presence of God. When I’m praying alone in my car, I’m in the presence of God. And yet Jesus is also present in a unique and special way when I gather together with other believers in his name. He is present in a way that he is not present when I am by myself.
Jesus himself is literally in our midst.
If I knew that Jesus was going to be physically present at church on a particular Sunday, there is no possible way I would be late. I would want to spend as much time with him as possible, and I would do whatever it took to get their early. I would go to bed early, get up early – whatever it took to be with Jesus. I would definitely take church seriously if I knew Jesus was going to be physically in the house.
When gathered with other believers, Jesus may not be there physically, but he’s fully there nevertheless. Paul had this reality in mind when talked about the unbeliever: “…falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” Ponder the last words in that sentence. God is really among us.
The Sunday gathering isn’t just another thing we pencil on our calendars. It’s a sacred, holy event in which we meet with the living Christ in a unique way. By God’s grace, may we order our Sunday mornings to reflect this incredible reality.