GRC, I have missed seeing you in person, face-to-face. As restrictions have lifted, I’ve seen a few of you in person, and that has been precious. And I’ve seen some of you much more through a screen over the last few months than I previously did before social distancing, and for that I’m thankful. I praise God for the new and different connections that have been made possible through technology during this time that have actually helped me get to know some of you better than before. But that actually increases my longing to see you in person face-to-face. As good as it is, a video conference isn’t the same thing as being in the same room (or backyard) together.
And so I’m glad that we can begin to re-gather for corporate worship on Sundays. Despite the masks and the lack of hugs and the social distancing, there is something sweet and moving about seeing each other in worship again. I also realize that many of you are uncomfortable or unable due to health risks to do that right now. I get it. I understand. I want to share a picture of corporate worship that I had today in my devotions from Hebrew 12 that I hope encourages each of you, regardless of whether you can be physically present in worship or if you continue to livestream from your home.
Hebrews 12 gives us this vision of spiritual worship that is going on right now, today:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb 12:22-24)
Sometimes when we gather for corporate worship I imagine the roof of 21 Harristown being peeled back and the heavens being split open and the scene in our sanctuary being connected with the scene in heaven. We “have come”—already, now—to the heavenly city. When we worship, we are spiritually in the presence of angels as far as the eye can see surrounding the throne of God. We are in the presence of those who have died in faith and are already in God’s presence. We have come into the presence of Jesus, the one who makes it all possible, and into the presence of the Father, into his very throne room in heaven! We are connected. In the company of angels. With every brother and sister in Christ who has ever lived around the world and across time. With God himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Whenever you are comfortable rejoining us for worship at 21 Harristown, let the joy of physically seeing your brothers and sisters in worship remind you that you are worshiping with far more than them in that room! And as long as you worship at home through the livestream, be encouraged that it’s not just you alone in that room in front of a screen; you join with us at Harristown and every believer around the world and across time, along with the angels, in singing praises to God and hearing his voice in worship.
This is a spiritual reality today, already, through the Holy Spirit. It will be a physical, embodied reality in the new heavens and new earth when Jesus returns (Rev 21:1-6). Hebrews 12 ends with a reminder that God will “shake heaven and earth” at the end of time when he makes all things new and we dwell in his presence face-to-face. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Heb 12:28).
Steve Sage is the Pastor of Discipleship.