Week after week, for millenia and around the globe, a peculiar people is gathered by a call to worship--a call that, in a sense, goes out before the service begins, but that is then formally declared in the opening of the service in the "call to worship," often from the Psalms:
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture
the flock under his care. (Ps. 95.6-7 NIV)
Praise! Praise God in the temple, in the highest heavens!
Praise! Praise God's mighty deeds and noble majesty.
All that is alive, praise!
Praise the Lord.
Hallelujah! (Ps. 150.1-2)
The rather mundane fact that people show up is, however, an indicator of something fundamental: that a people has gathered in response to a call. "Whenever we gather for public worship," Horton declares, "it is becasue we have been summoned. That is what 'church' means: ekklesia, 'called out.' It is not a voluntary society of those whose chief concern is to share, to build community, to enjoy fellowship, to have moral instructions for their children. Rather, it is a society of those who have been chosen, redeemed, called, justified, and are being sanctified until one day they will be glorified. The very fact that we gather says something, implicitly trains our imaginiation in a way. "Gathering indicates that Christirans are called rrom the world, from their homes, from their families, to be constituted into a community capable of praising God... The church is constituted as a new people who have been gathered from the nations to remind the world that we are in fact one people. Gathering, therefore, is an eschatolgoical act as it is the forestaste of the unity of the communion of the saints."