"Let's return to our worship setting.  The milieu of the space--its color and adornment--has given us an indication of the unique temporatility of this peculiar people.  But the very next thing we should consider is something that easily slips from notice: the very fact that we're here--that on a Sunday morning, one of the few times that the city's streets are quiet and even the steady hum of consumption and production gets a bit quieter, here we find people streaming into a space to gather for worship of the triune God.  Singles and families, seniors and toddlers, make the effort to gather together at an appointed time not of their choosing.  We could be still snug in our beds at home, or enjoying The New York Times Magazine with a coffee on our front porch.  But instead we are part of--let's be honest--a rather motley crew that has made its way here.  Families have wrestled with children to make them presentable, and some probably argued in the car on the way here; students have perhaps only just felt the warmth of bed after a Saturday night of entertainment when they "have" to emerge, bleary-eyed, to "go to church"; senior citizens who find themselves secluded in the nursing homes have been craving this day all week, when a deacon or friend drops by to pick them up to gather with the saints for worship.

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)

or

     Hallelujah!
     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."

James Smith, Desiring the Kingdom



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