I do smile when people speak about getting back to being like the church in the New Testament. I do so because not only is it impossible but it is also a huge exercise in missing the point of why the New Testament was written. As I’ve said before, the Bible was written for us, but not to us. This means we are not to imitate the New Testament church slavishly but instead to learn how they followed Jesus, not according to their situation, but to ours.
This is particularly true for worship.
In our worship today, this is exactly what we are doing. Our experience of worship, like the early church, is not in a building designated for it, but in our homes. To worship in your home was very familiar to both Jew and Gentile before and after they became Christian, as it was here you worshipped giving thanks for all that that day has been, even to the fact of literally having survived it.
For first century Jew and Gentile the home was the central focus for worship, it complemented both Synagogue and Temple and yet was also incomplete without Synagogue and Temple. When they became Christians this didn’t change at all, for instead of Synagogue or Temple it was the household where they would gather together to worship instead. Is this how you see your home? Well, let me suggest to you that you should.
Your home is the place where worship happens for you as an individual, and also as a family, but what rituals do you use to facilitate this? This is the part where it gets very interesting because this is the part where it is the most challenging. As it is here you ask, how are we to worship? Thankfully, this question has been answered by our needing to go digital in our worship as it has given us the impetus to embrace a variety of rituals to help us to worship.
This is why I ask you to ‘Pause the Pastor’. I do this not for you to fast forward me but for you to embrace ritual. When I ask you to ‘Pause the Pastor’ I am asking you to develop ways for you as an individual, or as a family, to pray; to break bread and drink wine together; to sing; to testify how Jesus has helped you in your life this week and even to work out why we do the things we do to celebrate Christmas.
Am I looking forward to having everyone back in the building to worship together? Well the answer is yes since I miss you, but yet there is a part of me that says no. This is because I hope you will never stop worshipping at home, that you will never stop knowing Jesus in a way that will help you deepen your walk with him, your knowing him and above all your loving him.