A Note from Pastor Rick: “Let us go up to the house of the Lord!”
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go up to the house of the Lord!” So says the psalmist in Psalm 122:1. So I often declare before the Lord on Sunday mornings as I prepare to enter into worship with the congregation at Wellspring. Lately I have been feeling this verse with some intensity, and I want to share my reflections with you.
In recent weeks we have been experiencing an unusually intense release of God’s presence as we worship together on Sunday mornings. I mean “unusually intense” and good. I feel it like the best of “the old days” when people came from all over central Connecticut to worship here and would stay through the worship time of both services just to soak in and receive the goodness of the Lord while we gathered to worship. I find myself both exhilarated by the presence hovering over us—and incredibly sad when I think of those of you whom I love and who love God’s presence who aren’t gathered with us.
It is undoubtedly both trite and lame for a pastor to write in the church’s newsletter urging people to attend Sunday service. Knowing that, and not wanting to appear to be either trite or lame, I have hesitated to share these reflections with you. But I am stirred to make this bald appeal—would you join in the psalmist’s refrain and make it priority to make pilgrimage to join us on Sunday morning for corporate worship?
I offer two primary reasons to urge you to join those of us gathered at Wellspring on Sundays: Number 1, you miss out when you are not here; and Number 2, we miss out when you are not here.
Number 1. You don’t need to come to church to get great biblical teaching or inspirational preaching. Every day of the week you are simply a couple clicks away from better teaching than you will hear at Wellspring on our best days. You don’t need to be at church to have access to the best and latest worship music from across the globe. Again, it is in your hand on your phone or laptop and immediately accessible from your own home or even from the beach. We have really good teaching at Wellspring and a really good worship team, but not as good as you can find on-line.
What you can’t find on-line is the presence of God made manifest in the corporate praises of his people. I am not saying we can’t experience God alone in the secret place—of course we can. But Jesus promised a special expression of his presence where two or more are gathered in his Name. This morning my devotional reading was in Exodus 20. I came across this promise: Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. The LORD is speaking of his people gathering to worship him corporately.
I am not saying you can’t follow Jesus if you don’t come to church. But I am saying that it is a lot harder to do so. And, that when you absent yourself from being together with God’s people you miss out on something that can only be found together.
Number 2. When you are not here, the Body gathered misses out on the grace that you carry. I know this can sound like the preacher blowing smoke. But it is true. If we truly are a body, when one part doesn’t show up the rest of the body experiences the lack. Some of this is easy to quantify. There are special people that we have deep history and connection with. When we see them at church, our spirits are lifted; we are encouraged. But some of it is harder to quantify. If I have experienced a blessing or a victory in my spiritual walk in the past week, I bring the residue of that with me into the sanctuary and it is added to the corporate anointing everyone is able to receive from. If I don’t come, the blessing is not added to the mix. The Body misses out.
In Psalm 122 describes the city of Jerusalem, where the people gathered to worship in the temple, as a “city that is closely compacted together.” In New England we would say it is “thickly settled.” The point is this—being close together makes the sharing of grace possible. When you are not with us, we miss the grace you carry.
I am aware that over the past four years Wellspring has navigated some difficult passages; very aware. But what I am seeing and experiencing now is what the Apostle James speaks of in James 1:12: Having persevered through a trial, what follows is the “crown of life.” I am jealous that all of us who call Wellspring our spiritual home experience the joy of sharing in this crown and the blessings of life that comes following a season of trial.
Will you join me in the refrain? I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go up to the house of the Lord!”