What we return to church to do
“A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Ps 122:1).
With great joy and thankfulness in our hearts, the whole church resounded with His people’s voices once again through the hymns of praise last Lord’s Day. After close to 3 months of being away, it was a blessed homecoming for the BPCWA family as we met one another – many of whom we had not seen since the lockdown. Little ones seemed to have grown up so much. There was much to catch up on. But the most blessed thing of all was that we could worship together again! While we delight in the lifting of the restrictions so that we can return to church, let us remind ourselves and keep our focus on why we want to return to church.
To worship Him. “Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD” (Psa 122:4). The tribes went up together to present themselves physically before the presence of the LORD as His people, not merely as Israel (tribes of the LORD). They gathered to give thanks to the LORD’s name. This meant to lift up praise, laud, and honour with gratefulness to extol His covenantal faithfulness. The highest reason for our gladness in returning is because we can worship God as His covenantal people. This must be the central focus of our delight in returning to God’s house. Our joy must first and foremost be that we can praise, adore, and magnify His Name, ie who He is. We must aim to glorify Him. Yes, it was moving to hear our voices singing in church. But let us not be moved by the sound waves, but by the thoughts of who God is, what He has done in faithfulness to His purposes, and why we are in His Holy Presence. Let our hearts and minds come singing with anticipation to magnify Him with praise through lifted voices, knowing and meditating in our hearts of what He has done in our lives personally. Then we will truly fulfill the reasons for which He brought us back again.
To seek our Lord. The church is a community. But it is more than just a social community. It is a covenantal community. The very reason we are a community is because God is the centre of our community. While we are glad to see one another again (and rightly so), to catch up with each other, to see both young and old in our midst, it is not just merely a social gathering. Just as it was during the Old Testament where the tabernacle was always in the centre of the camp of the children of Israel, God must be central to our community life. The reason we rejoice in returning is that we are God’s people. We come back to worship because God promises a special blessing and His presence when His people gather to seek Him together. So do remember, it is not just about the fun of being able to talk in person, chatter about the mundane and get attention for yourself.
To pray for His work. The Lord called His house the house of prayer, “And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mat 21:13). The new corporate prayer mixed with personal prayer at our English prayer meetings is needed because of space limitation, given the physical distancing requirements. We are glad our Chinese congregation can have sufficient space to pray with each other, given the group size. “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying” (Act 12:12). Even under persecution, “many were gathered together praying”. They did not choose to stay at home to pray. Nothing deterred them. It was such prayer that pleased God to move mightily in the church at that time. How we must treasure this great privilege to return to serve His church and each other by being among the many who gather together to pray!
To serve Him. While we continued to serve our Lord through personal evangelism and led our families, I am sure that His children have also missed serving Him in His church during the period of home isolation. Now that we are back in His house, there are new areas of service that we can do. For one, for every day that we meet in His house, there will need to be people rostered in to clean the frequently touched places. With Sunday School resuming, teachers will soon begin to teach again. Parents have been approached to serve as Assistants to help in looking after children in the Pre-Primary classes. More ushers are now needed so that we can assign them to the various rooms used to help settle worshippers into service. Drivers are needed so that we can resume transporting elderlies and students to church. People have stepped up to serve because we need additional resources for both English and Chinese services. In addition to these rostered duties, each of us can help to look out for what may have been missed, like helping to sweep up the leaves that may have blown into the church during this windy weather. There is still much to do, and if we missed serving Him over the past 3 months, then whenever you are approached, “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecc 9:10).
Yours in our Lord’s service,