Corporate Worship Prepares Us for Mission

    Series: 52 Reasons: The Importance of Corporate Worship
    July 10, 2020
    George Robertson
    When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said…And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23–24, 29-31)

    Perhaps you have recently been experiencing something many people are facing right now – weariness. It seemed that we began to see a sort of light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic, and then cases surged again, putting things in doubt again. It can feel as though there is no end in sight. So how do you continue to be faithful to be salt and light in the world when you feel we don't have anything to give?
    In J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, he imagines a special place called Rivendell. You need not have read the trilogy to appreciate what Rivendell represents.  It is a place of refuge and healing for the weary and wounded.  The main character of the book, Frodo, comes to Rivendell after receiving what could have been a deadly wound.  He is carried there unconscious by his friends.  At Rivendell he is taken into what was called “The Last Homely House east of the sea.”  A friend of Frodo’s (Bilbo Baggins) called it “a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.  Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”[1]  In that wonderfully peaceful place, Frodo finds physical and emotional healing. 
    But he does not stay there.  When he gets his strength back, he receives a mission. Tolkien says about these little people called Hobbits: “they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the great.”[2]
    That image captures what is happening with the Church in this chapter of Acts. The Apostles return to the local church, their Rivendell, to get refreshment after a battle. The same healthy fellowship created by the Holy Spirit who produced their courage now nurtures them and strengthens them to return to the battle. Their example calls us as Spirit-filled people to pursue the health of the fellowship in order to reach the world. We are called to refresh ourselves in corporate worship in order to continue in our mission.
    When the Apostles return to the church after their encounter with their persecutors, their words and actions reveal that they are staking their lives on the confidence that God is sovereign.  How did they come to that conviction?  It was by the Word of God.  One of the most striking phenomena occurring in these early chapters of Acts is the disciples’ understanding of Scripture.  Scriptures they had known and memorized for decades suddenly came alive as the Spirit opened their minds to understand it and enabled their wills to apply it.  The Spirit does the same for us.  But notice something important.  The Word only becomes alive to these early disciples as they put themselves at risk for the Kingdom.  There is nothing like opposition or suffering to make God’s Word come through to you in stereo.
    Whatever we may be experiencing, when we enter into corporate worship our sights are set on the sovereign God who refreshes us with the gospel and prepares us to begin another week of faithful service to him.
    [1] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), 237.
    [2] Ibid., 284.

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