My wife and I just got back from an extended time with my family. We enjoyed many blessing over these past two weeks, but one stands out, the necessity for God’s people to meeting together as a church. The two greatest highlights, next to time with family, was attending two different church services. This is something that we have not been able to do since March!
It stood out to me that while the two churches were different in many ways, the uplifting experience of worshiping together with others was a blessing. I am reminded of the well known verse, that Pastor Berney touched on this Sunday, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25) It is the last portion of these verses that remind us of the priority of our gathering together.
It is from this verse that I want to focus on one of the blessings of corporate worship, encouragement. Our family has always made it a priority to attend church each Sunday even when we are on vacation. Our family reunion at the Outer Banks of North Carolina was no different. We did have several family members that joined us on Sunday morning. Caryl and I were so encouraged by our time together with this small congregation. It began as one of the greeters welcomed us to the service and took our temperatures, part of their “state requirements” for services. We were also required to wear a mask until we were seated. We ended up sitting in the back due to spacing requirements. Yet, with all these extras, our time was a tremendous blessing that is hard to express in words. We enjoyed fellowship with others believers that we did not know! We enjoyed singing together with the congregations! And we were blessed by a powerful sermon from God’s Word. All those in our group were encouraged by our time spent in corporate worship.
Our second Sunday we were back “ home” in Pittsburgh where my family lives. Many of the churches in the area were meeting online or holding limited public services. We ended up attending with one of my siblings. Now, their church was much larger. Yet, the encouragement was the same. There was the warm Christian fellowship with others attending. The time of worship was again a special blessing and the message was also a blessing.
So what about our church, Living Hope? Well the not so good news is that the school that we use is still closed. The good news is that we are on the verge of having our own facility on our site. We have several projects that are moving us forward to that day. First, we are working on occupancy for our Office Modular. The big hold up is getting approval for the ADA Ramp and Deck. We are very close on this. Second, the preliminary construction on our Worship Building is happening as I write. They will begin major construction once they have obtained permits.
This brings us to several take away items. First, Pray about the above mentioned items. Second, make it a priority to encourage others in our congregation. Third, don’t forget to give towards the project. We are currently making mortgage payments on our construction loan. And last, volunteer to help at the property. We are already planning for a time when we can meet as a congregation. What an encouraging time that will be!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson