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From the Synod Moderator:
Church Re:Start - returning to onsite worship service

By Rt Rev Keith Lai
Nov 2020

After a 9-month hiatus of "lockdown" and absence from our usual onsite worship service, many have, by now settled comfortably into a “routine” of homebased worship. For some, still in their pyjamas, sipping their cup of coffee or tea, enjoying every minute of their breakfast leisurely, while watching the recorded worship version on line. This has made life more cushy, simpler and so convenient.

Some of you may be asking, “What’s the point of coming back, if there is not much difference between worship onsite and online? At home and online, I can sing my heart out, while onsite I have to sing in my heart?” These are valid reasonings but they lean heavily towards pragmatism and consumerism. At the heart of this reasoning is, “What do I get out of the worship service and experience? How do I benefit? What’s in it for ME?”

Case in point... here are some good reasons, why coming together for onsite worship service is important.

Firstly, worship of God is significantly more than just singing to God. If it is, then those who cannot sing for various reasons (health, disability, illiteracy, etc), cannot worship God. Worship is first and foremost a “posture of the heart”, with or without singing. If singing is what I must to do to feel I am worshipping, then we may have missed the point. The indictment from Isaiah reminds us of the deeper importance of worship with our hearts, not just with our lips.

Secondly, worship is intended for God’s pleasure, not ours. God delights in His people when they assemble as his faithful worshippers. Psalm 149 captures beautifully the link between coming together (in the assembly) and the response of the Lord (for the Lord takes delight in his people). Notice also it’s hard to have the full complement of worship instruments in a home setting.

Praise the Lord.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.

There is something different.

Thirdly, God desires and delights in seeing his people coming together in unity, reverence and passion to worship Him. Just like a grandfather who looks forward to the weekly visit of his children and grandchildren, seeing all his kin coming together in unity brings abounding joy to him. I believe it is the same with God, when we gather in worship, with or without singing. The Psalmist sees a special blessing reserved for this kind of united gathering,

“How truly wonderful and delightful to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! ... For from this realm of sweet harmony God will release his eternal blessing, the promise of life forever!” Psalm 133:1-4 (TPT)

One Senior Pastor made this insightful comment: “We were created to be social beings. It’s really important that we don’t atrophy in the comforts of our own home. In the Scriptures, we are constantly exhorted not to forsake the assembling together of the saints, which is an important part of our journey together as believers.”


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