Imagine church, without any Music - no singing, no band, no sound system; Without any Building - no chairs, no heating, no technology; Without any Coffee and home bakes to have as you browse the resource table; Without any Creche or Sunday school !
What's left? Well the three things that are vital and necessary for any of our Sunday gatherings: God's Word, God's Spirit and God's People. It doesn't sound very exciting, in fact it looks very ordinary and perhaps boring. Would you go? Would the Spirit of God, at work through the word of God, in the people of God be enough for you - or would you go looking elsewhere to satisfy your hearts desire?
As our present lock down comes to an end and we prepare for our 'in person' gatherings it's something we all need to consider. Thankfully over this last year, through the means of technology, we have been able to hear the word, sing songs, enjoy our coffee (or even breakfast!) from the comfort of our living room. But we have not had each other. The last time we met in person was twenty four weeks ago for others it's been over a year.
Thankfully, the waiting is almost over and we will be able to meet together in person. Yet it comes at a cost: Comfy sofas will be replaced with plastic chairs; Hot coffee will be replaced with whirring ventilation; Loud joyful singing will be replaced with quiet listening to an online band. Of course we won't be exposed to the wintery summer, we will have a roof over our heads and we won't be left trying to keep our children glued to a seat, we will have Sunday school and creche. But is all this enough - Is the Spirit of God at work through the Word of God in the People of God sufficient? Will you be satisfied with sitting two meters apart with your mask on listening to a sermon, as the Spirit works in your heart and your fellow brothers and sisters? If that seems too costly for you - then I suggest you stay at home in the comfort of your pyjamas and click through YouTube at your heart's content, choosing your favourite songs and pausing at your pleasure to get another refill.
Please don't miss my point. I can't wait for the unrestricted welcome, singing along with our gifted musicians and the extended conversations over coffee; I long for the time when we can wander freely and sit with who we like as close as we like; I hope for better days when we are not having to watch the clock, check if we have the right spacing and be concerned what 'others' might think.
Yet I am looking forward in great expectation to this Sunday as the Spirit of God does his work through the Word of God in the gathered People of God. This is enough, this is sufficient, this gives me joy and delight.
As we hear God's word preached we hear God's voice, it's the way God has chosen to communicate with us. It's through the word that we meet with Christ, for the word is the full and final revelation of Christ. As we dig deep into the word we discover and experience all the treasures that are in Christ. The Spirit delights in this because He works through the word, illuminating our minds, applying it to our hearts and transforms our lives. The Spirit enables us to experience Christ.
So this Sunday the Spirit will be at work through God's word as it is read and preached, God has promised that. All we need now is the people - see you Sunday!
'For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord...For God who said 'let light shine out of darkness', has made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'
2 Corinthians 4v5-6