Sunday, June 14, 2020

We gather together

Matthew 18:19-20 Common English Bible

19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.

I always think it strange that I can have so much trouble wrapping my mind around one verse while embracing the next one with all my heart.  

Verse 19 always seems to me to make a promise that we don’t see played out in real life.  “If two of you agree in what you ask, then it will be done.”  How many times do we see families, prayer groups, even entire congregations pray for something and not have their prayer fulfilled?  I mean, that’s often a good thing.  Have you heard some of the things folks will pray for?   

Sometimes I think that the reason we don’t see the prayers of two or more fulfilled is that no two of us really agree on exactly what we are praying for.  If two pray for a friend to be healed, one might be praying for a physical cure while the other prays for healing of the spirit.  Both are using the same word, but meaning entirely different things by that word.  Maybe this refers to agreement in our heart of hearts?  I dunno, but it always troubles me.

Verse 20 on the other hand, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I’m there with them”, fills my heart with joy.  I mean, I believe that Christ is always with me, but when two or more are together and focused on him, that’s church. That’s community. 

Now, of course, we can gather without being in physical proximity, thanks to telephones and the internet.  Two people in prayer together over the phone are church.  A whole bunch of people meeting by Zoom are church.  A congregation that is physically separated by circumstance but who still share worship by watching and participating online is still church.  Church is a gathering of like minded people worshipping God.  

I really do think that this whole “can’t worship in person” thing may be one of the best things that has happened for the Church since its earliest days.  By going online, we are making the Good News available to so very many more people than just the 50 or so  gathered in a building.  By going online, we are opening up worship to people who, for whatever reason, cannot be there in person. 

I know not everyone agrees with me on this.  And that’s ok.  We don’t have to agree.  As long as we are gathered in Christ’s name, however that happens, he is there with us.  And that is the important thing.

Loving God, we know you are always with us.  May our gathering in your name, in whatever way we manage to do that, continue to be pleasing in your sight.  Amen.

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