Gathering for physical service is a sacred commitment. Don’t treat it lightly
Pastor Andre Tan // October 1, 2021, 9:58 am
Photo: Hannah Rodrigo/Unsplash.com
The online church is not an alternative way to church. It is a concession.
It is something that we are just making do with, in light of these times. It is not an alternative way to do church.
The church, all through history, has been an embodied community coming together in sacrificial love for one another – that’s what we are about.
We must value the physical gathering of the church. We need a longing for it.
Now in light of the recent rise in the number of community cases in Singapore, standing in solidarity with our Government’s efforts to control the spread, we are putting our calibrated reopening of church on pause. We were looking to do one onsite service, then slowly creep up to being able to run two services as a church. That’s now on pause.
Because of how many times we’ve had to pause our physical services due to the pandemic situation over the months, how many times we’ve had to shelve our plans, it is very easy for us to think that the physical gathering is just a peripheral thing.
It is very easy for us to think of physical gathering as just a thing that, well, if we have it, we have it; if we don’t, we don’t.
I would love to impress on your heart a value for the physical gathering of the church, as well as a longing for it to take place.
It is something precious, something sacred – something to be longed for and sought after.
I wonder how many of us, over time – because perhaps now your Sunday mornings are free, and you get to occupy yourself with different things – I wonder if your longing for physical gatherings has slowly waned over the last 18 months.
Honestly, to you, if it doesn’t happen, it’s okay, I still get to tune in to church whenever I want to. I get to catch a delayed broadcast if I want to, because it’s available for me and I really don’t care and don’t bother with gathering.
As a pastor, with all of my heart, I would love to urge you, church: Value this. This is something to be longed for.
This is not so that I can coerce you or manipulate you to serve more or give more. This is for the sake of your spiritual life.
As a faith community, we have set in place this sacred rhythm of once a week coming together as God’s embodied community.
I urge you to maintain that rhythm. Even if we can’t meet, I still urge you, in the online space – maintain that rhythm. I know you can very well watch service at 2pm or 3pm, or Tuesday or Wednesday. But I want to urge you maintain your usual service timing. If you would be onsite at 10am on Sunday morning, don’t change that just because it’s online.
It may seem a small thing. It may seem insignificant. But hear me in saying this: Small, little compromises can lead to spiritual ruin.
I know you might disagree with me on this, but lovingly I say to you: We have to be mindful of what we lose. It’s about loyalty, value and compromise. We have to be mindful of these things because small, little compromises which seem insignificant, and which may not seem outwardly/outrightly morally wrong, can very well set us on a trajectory towards spiritual ruin.
Because Church service is not just a time where we exchange information. It is not just a time where we listen to music and worship. It is a time we’ve set aside as a form of sacred commitment, to one another and to God.
So I urge you, as your pastor, maintain that. Don’t lose it. Continue to value it, and continue to long for the day that we’ll able to come back together in person.
This was an adapted from Ps Andre’s sermon on September 26, 2021, as part of The City Singapore’s “Run With The Horses” sermon series. You can watch the whole sermon here.