Acts 2:42 (ESV) “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Though this verse speaks to a specific moment in the history of the church (the days immediately following the birth of the church in Jerusalem), it describes the basic content of the church’s public assemblies—a content that endures to this day: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper) and prayers.
Being unable to assemble during the pandemic has reminded me of the great importance (and blessing) of our times together in public assembly as the body of Christ. Something we can still take part in, albeit virtually, through our church services online. (I am grateful to those who worked so hard to make this resource available, it has been a lifeline!)
Robin Parry, in Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, states (referencing the writing of Susan Wood, emphasis added):
Taking part in Christian worship is essential for Christian spiritual formation. We may not pay conscious attention to all the individual elements of the faith that we sing or act out in worship, but we are immersed in the practice of communal devotion to God. We internalize the shape of the faith through the sights, sounds, smells, tastes of the whole experience. Liturgy… creates an environment that, when we indwell it, shapes our vision, relations, and knowledge of God in Christian ways. The knowledge of God we gain in worship is not the knowledge that one can learn from a book but the participatory knowledge that comes from being involved in a relationship.
Because we worship a relational God—the Holy Trinity—our worship is communal. By God’s design, it involves assembling together—Sunday-by-Sunday, season-by-season through the course of the Christian year. In our assemblies, through the liturgy of worship, we reenact the story of the gospel—the story of Jesus, our story. So important. Such a blessing!
Prayer: Lord God, we are grateful for your church; grateful we are part of it—members of Christ’s body. Lord, you created us and created the church so that we might share in your life and your love. We do that sharing together, and through that life together we are transformed. Lord, we pray for those who due to circumstances beyond their control, are unable to assemble with us. May we reach out to them so that they know they are part of us, and we a part of them. Help us to assemble faithfully, safely, with joy, reverence, and awe, for our sakes, and for the sake of the world that you love. Amen
Instructor, Grace Communion Seminary
Retired GCI Regional Pastor and Publications Editor