In the Midst
She is a retired school teacher who was visiting our church with her 100-year-old mom who has graced us with her presence for the last two Sundays. Imagine! One hundred years old and still coming to church whenever she can! I’m looking forward to getting to know this dear centenarian in the days ahead. As she listened with a sweet smile on her face, her daughter told me a story of how the start of the school year coincided one time with her being very sick so she was unable to be with her incoming class during the first days of school. She said she would have to be quite sick if she was missing school! She explained that the whole semester was just a bit “off” even though she was teaching the same classes to the same grade in the same school. Something just wasn’t right that whole semester.
As we engaged in conversation, I said how much like church attendance her school story should be. If we miss church on Sunday, our whole week should be just a little “off” because something is missing. Her mom, listening joyfully, smiled at my comment. Her smile made me realize the richness of that moment. Here I was, a youngster next to my new friend who was over 30 years my senior, assuring her that I would visit her in the next week or two. She exuded joy and the love of Jesus. My heart and spirit felt lighter as she patted my hand and said she was looking forward to the visit.
While God is everywhere, I’m sure he looks forward to our visits on Sunday as we gather with like-minded believers in a house set aside to worship him, edify one another, and get to know more of his story just as I was getting to know the two women before me. When we miss Sunday service, I wonder if the rest of the week feels a bit “off” for most of us.
There is more in the gathering than there is in the sum of the individuals. Jesus said when we gather, his presence is “in the midst.” We can have wonderful individual moments with God, but there is no “in the midst” without the two or three or more gathered together in agreement (the context of Matthew 18:20).
I’m impressed that on a holiday weekend in my town, a daughter and her 100-year old mother made the choice to be part of the Lord’s gathering. Being impressed wasn’t all that happened to me during our brief encounter though. I was greatly blessed by the outflow of God’s joy and the tenderness of a mom with her daughter. I’m so glad I didn’t miss the moment. And I hope, if I live to be 100, being in church will be my top priority on any holiday weekend, and every other Sunday of the year. I want to always experience the joy that comes from being “in the midst.”
Father, thank you for church buildings scattered all over the globe where people can gather to worship and meet you in the midst of that gathering. We know your temple is now in the hearts of those who trust and follow you, but we are grateful for the dedicated spaces left to us by those who have gone before, where we can intentionally gather to share our joy, bring our concerns to your throne, and offer our sacrifice of praise. Help us to honor you, by being part of the church that gathers on Sunday, and take us from that gathering to share your joy on every other day of the week. In Jesus’ name. Amen.