Greetings in the name of Jesus who said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Through the history of the church gathering together in the name of Jesus has been considered essential. But even before Jesus physically walked this earth and called his followers together the people of God had made it a top priority to come together regularly in order to meet with and worship God. After God had freed his people from Egypt, and established for them the law and commandments that would guide their relationships with each other, God laid out a plan for their worship gatherings. Included in those plans were the architectural designs for the Tabernacle that would be their gathering and meeting place.
As God’s people journeyed through the wilderness they carried the Tabernacle with them and set it up as their place of meeting with God. When they settled more permanently in the Promised Land plans were made and then construction began for the Temple that was built in Jerusalem. Both the Tabernacle and Temple were reminders to the people of God of the importance of gathering together to meet with and worship God. Their gathering together became an occasion to be formed in faith and to be reminded of their calling as God’s people.
While Jesus upheld and encouraged the need for God’s people to meet together for worship and formation, Jesus was less concerned about the physical place of meeting. Jesus through his teaching and life reminded us that God shows up wherever we gather. The apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth even said,
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Paul also wrote,
For weare the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Corinthians 6:16)
God dwells within us and is present with us wherever we meet!
We know the importance of gathering to help us be rooted in Christ, to continue to grow together in faith and to be encouraged to extend God’s love in the world. When we fail to gather we risk losing sight of God and God’s purpose for our lives. The writer to the Hebrews encouraged the church with these words:
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
For the last 5 months we have missed gathering in our church building, but we have not ceased to gather. Like the world around we have worked to find ways for meaningful connection. Our need for connection has not changed but the way we connect has significantly changed. In a Covid-19 reality we have learned that we can gather/meet/connect over zoom church, through emails, phone calls and pastoral letters, though YouTube videos and other social media connections. We have grown to appreciate even more our talks from the driveway or patio, or those more intentionally planned walks with a friend or mentor. And in all those gathering places Jesus has been there among us, even if we fail to notice or acknowledge his presence.