This past weekend several of our shepherds and I attended an ElderLink leadership seminar at the Friendly Avenue church in Greensboro, NC. Randy Harris, Friday evening’s keynote speaker, in his opening presentation made a powerful point concerning the need for us to have a posture of “Awareness” in our assemblies. When the church family gathers there must be an overarching awareness of God’s presence. Such is paramount.
Culturally, when it comes to some events, like for instance a wedding, we tend to do this well. We’ve all witnessed it; typically at the beginning of the service the officiating minister will center the focus of the crowd with a statement like: “We are gathered here in the presence of God and these witnesses to join this couple in holy matrimony.” If you think about it, that’s such a powerful phrase. It’s a contextual reality check. It answers the question, “Is this really important?” While people are doubtlessly caught up in the joy of the moment – the bride’s beauty, her dress, the groom, the number of attendants, the decorations, etc. – when those words are uttered things change. Hearts are centered and everyone is implicitly encouraged to dial into the gravity of the event. God’s watching.
Also, we see such emphasis at a Christian baptism. Echoing the words of the Great Commission (Mt 28:19),it’s common to hear something like: “Based upon your confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins.” The fact that we are mentioning the triune God again serves to emphasize the situation’s seriousness.
So what about the assembly? Isn’t there a uniqueness to the level of God’s presence when the collective body gathers? Although all of our life is an expression of worship to the Father (Ro. 12:1-2), when the local body of Christ comes together Scripture suggests that the Lord is there in a very special way. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Mt. 18:20) That being said, I believe that Randy’s comments concerning awareness in the assembly are spot on. On the Lord’s Day as we open the Word and contemplate its message, certainly it’s a time for us to posture ourselves with spiritual awareness. God is here and this matters!
Personally, I plan on being intentional about bringing our hearts in the assembly to the point of awareness. May we all remember that we are gathering in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to break the bread of life and to give glory to our Creator. It’s all about Him. May we each live every day with an awestruck awareness of the presence of our Creator. To Him be the glory in all things!
You are loved,