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Remembering 50 years from our Church’s First Service

February 10, 2013

Sunday EstomihiImage

“How lovely is your dwelling place,

    Lord Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,

    for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh cry out

    for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,

    and the swallow a nest for herself,

    where she may have her young—

a place near your altar,

    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;

    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baka,

    they make it a place of springs;

    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

    till each appears before God in Zion.

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;

    listen to me, God of Jacob.

Look on our shield, O God;

    look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts

    than a thousand elsewhere;

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

    the Lord bestows favor and honor;

no good thing does he withhold

    from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty,

    blessed is the one who trusts in you”.

Psalm 84

 

Surely you remember that in every service and in every language we repeat: I believe in the communion of saints. It is part of our faith. It is placed in the summary of our faith, which is the Apostles’ Creed. However, many people do not understand the meaning of this, especially if they didn’t have  Christian instruction. Just in case you don’t know, I’d like to explain it: the communion of saints is the meeting, brotherhood, unity and sharing of all those named saints. And saints are those who are different than others; they are different because of their special way of life, they are opposite to the people of the ‘world’, as it is said in the Bible, that do not believe in Jesus Christ. Thus the church is not just a particular building, but rather church is a time when all believers gather to worship God in a particular place. In our language, the word church comes from the Greek “Kyrios,” which means “Lord”, or the Lord’s house.

 

This beautiful psalm speaks of God’s temple, know to us as the church. It is the holy place where God dwells. God dwells everywhere, but especially in the place where Christians decide that this will be the place to praise God. That place is transformed into God’s house when we call upon Him, ie., when we call and say: We want to be gathered in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!. Just then God is present at our meeting place through His Holy Spirit. And this is very significant, because it is God himself who is there. Even though there could be non-Christians or people who do not believe in this in the church at the time, God is here for people who do believe and are conscious of this. Therefore, people who do not believe are also blessed by the presence of God in the church when they come to worship. And that is a wonderful thing. These people are blessed; they receive God’s favor without even knowing it. And how much greater is the blessing in the lives of those people do believe in this!

 

There are people who converted to God, and miraculously and dramatically were touched by the Holy Spirit of God in empty or nearly empty churches, for there was a spiritual presence in those places. Just as we often speak of haunted houses or places where it is believed that there is a negative or evil influence due to the spirits that are there, we also believe that when we invoke God in churches there is a mysterious movement of God’s Holy Spirit into the churches. There are people who have been cured by the mere act of participating in Holy Communion, even though they did not believe in God, or that they converted to God through Holy Communion. For even during the sacrament, the spiritual food, that is, the presence of God is present in a special way, and we will not get this anywhere else outside the church, other than during the communion of saints. That’s why we must receive the sacrament with great respect and reverence, having previously asked God for forgiveness of our sins.

 

Why should we come to church? We should come to church firstly, because we are Christians and secondly, because we are Christians and we have decided to obey the word of God. It is impossible to be Christian if we don’t have a firm and conscious decision to obey God through His word. The second commandment reads, as we have learned: Remember the Sabbath day (or rest day) to keep it holy. It is a law of God. Of course God does not force anyone to be a Christian. But in order to be a Christian, binds oneself to God and promises to observe his demands. And one of his commandments says to remember our day of rest, mostly on Sunday and to go to the house of God, or to meet with the church. What if I do not go to church? The same thing happens when we do not meet any of God’s commandments. We begin to break our relationship with God and our communication with God. To put it in simple words, we gradually lose the favor and blessing of God in our lives.

 

We firstly go to church because we want to obey what God tells us in the second commandment. In this way we are worshiping and serving God and this can be seen in the names we give to our Sunday meetings. These meetings are called services or worship. The dictionary tells us that worship is, “The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity” That is, to worship is to show God that he truly is our God and that we see Him as God. This is the first way to love God, by just adoring Him and attending church every Sunday. Many frequently say, ‘But why should I go to church?’ After all, I do not understand the sermons or church bores me, or I do not understand the liturgy or I do not like it as it is, I’d like something more contemporary or even, perhaps, something more calm and peaceful. Someone once said: “Today I went to church and I did not fall asleep.” It’s a pity. But there is something good that I want to tell you today. It is true; there may be things in the church service that can be changed to make them more understandable. But especially today, I want you to know that the first thing God wants from us is for us to come to church. He wants our very presence, if only for our obedience. He just wants our figure, our imprint here. He wants to see us here, even if it seems you’re just sitting around doing nothing. He wants our honor, our obedience through our physical presence. Although being in church may seem like a waste of time and there may be things that you do not understand, God asks this of us. It’s the only way He can bless you and me. It is only then that he can awaken in us understanding and can bless us as he wants. But first he wants obedience, that is, respect and worship from us. Are we willing to do that?

 

The beautiful Psalm 84 tells us: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”.

Obviously this Psalm is written by someone who has been touched by the Holy Spirit of God and who has reached enough spiritual wisdom to understand what it means to come to church. The person writing this psalm is receiving God’s blessing.

 

I can imagine that the founders of our church felt the need to build our Pilgrim Church. When they raised funds, sought donations of money, gave money for construction, took care of all the construction work, gathered and called people and told them that they were going to build a church, they were doing it because they wanted a place to worship God. I am sure that they were not merely seeking a place to meet friends. I am convinced that they sought to build a house of God.

 

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

The psalmist’s words are a promise. Blessed are those who dwell in your house. From this temple we obtain God’s strength to live the remaining six days of the week and to have the favor of God. If we want to honor our founders, we must do everything humanly possible to keep this church through all possible means. If we want to honor God through the church we have, we have to honor him with our physical presence in church every Sunday or at least most of them. May the church be, as the psalmist says, our home, for “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” If we truly love God, one of the first things we should do in life is to love him through worship in the church. That way he will bless us abundantly, as the valleys are blessed with rains in spring.

 

It is also always important to remember that,  You can be committed to church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church. The people who are not committed to Christ struggle to come to church because they do not understand the reasons and meaning of coming to church. I’m sure the founders of this church were able to understand this difference. Honor them with a commitment to Christ and his church. May God bless this church today, on this special day, when we remember its first service and make He make our church faithful and fruitful for many generations to come; for the glory of the Lord of the church. Amen

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