Regathering as a Church: A Declaration of Hope

When we gather again this Sunday, it will be three months since we have gathered for corporate worship in our sanctuary as Tabor City Baptist Church. During this time apart, it seems as if the world has begun to come undone. We started this strange period of time under the threat of a physical virus: COVID-19. We’ve been introduced to words and phrases we perhaps would have never used otherwise: Quarantine, “social-distancing,” and the dreaded “curve,” just to name a few. We come to what seems to be the end of this time with a different virus (or viruses) in mind; Viruses of a spiritual nature—Racism, hate, violence, thievery, anarchy, lawlessness… I could go on.

But the reality in all of these “viruses” is that none of them are new to humanity. Physically speaking; sickness, disease, suffering, and death are part of our shared human experience since the Fall. No one will escape death—Coronavirus or not. On a spiritual level, our hatred and violence toward one another has been around since Cain and Abel. Because of sin, we are always “hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Furthermore, as we have seen in the chaos of this past week, calls for justice and peaceful protest are quickly darkened by yet more hate, violence, and injustice. We could look at all of these as separate issues with separate solutions, and on worldly note, we should. But we as believers know that these are all simply manifestations of the central problem: Sin.

When we gather as a church for corporate worship, we are not turning a blind eye to the many difficulties of this world. We don’t pretend physical suffering and sickness don’t exist or don’t matter. Prayerfully, we do not pretend that injustice (racial or otherwise) is not a plague in our nation. No, but when we come together, we come acknowledging these many, many issues while naming the true enemy by name and declaring that Jesus, the Son of God has come to “destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8). We come as “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15), reconciled to God and to one another through the blood of Jesus Christ. In that way, we gather as a sign; A sign of light and life to those who will repent and believe the Gospel and a sign of destruction to those who “love darkness rather than light” (John 3:19) and refuse confront the heart of the problem—The darkness of sin in themselves.

We gather this Lord’s Day as a Kingdom outpost, an embassy of light in a dark, dark world. We gather, not as Republicans, Democrats, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, rich, or poor; but we gather as the Bride of Christ as a foretaste of that Day when we all gather around the Table of the Lamb as the children of Abraham.

Every trial, every burden, every injustice, every evil deed, every troubling headline; they should all make the final prayer of the Bible more precious to us every single day: “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). It is in that hope that we gather once again for worship this Lord’s Day.

By our gathering we declare, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

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