Come Together for the Better

Every Sunday Come Together for the Better and Receive the Story Anew

Weekly we gather — seldom daily as they did in New Testament times, the era of ravenous lions and Nero’s flaming, pitch-dipped Christians, human torches to light his gardens.  Lugging our three pound Bibles and a week’s worth of accumulated angst, we gather, having in common our hearts of flesh and likely the scar tissue where hearts of stone rubbed us raw in time past.

“Coming together” Paul calls it at least four times in his Corinthian communiqué, and he chides that congregation for coming together “for the worse.”  By contrast, he launches into what amounts to a reenactment of Jesus’s last Passover celebration in the Upper Room with words that have worn grooves in the church’s collective memory.  “This do in remembrance of Me.”

A Story that Was Received

Paul’s account pre-dates the Gospels, making it the first written record of the event from which we pattern our modern day communion service.  Paul received the story that the eye-witnesses would write about later.  Let that sink in for a moment:  post-crucifixion, post-resurrection, post-ascension, Paul was given the privilege of writing about an event he would never have been invited to at the time.

The bread and the cup had once been the centerpiece of the early church’s coming together.  However, in keeping with human nature, it had become a hollow shell.  

Indifferent, ritualistic, unrepentant, and greedy, the Corinthians gobbled bread and slurped wine without a thought for Christ’s sacrifice.  It was Paul’s intent to fill up that tradition with meaning once again.

Can we say that what happens when we “come together” each week is “for the better” — for the enhancement, the building up of the Body?  Oh, we will not do it perfectly.  Not now.  Not on this planet.  

  • But do we listen more than we speak?  
  • Do we ask questions like a bridge from heart to heart —  and then really pay attention to the answers that travel back to us on that bridge?  
  • Can we bear in mind that the point of our gathering has very little to do with order of service or music style or whose turn it is to serve in the nursery?

Whatever our tradition — bread cubes and grape juice, matzo and wine, daily, weekly, or monthly — when we gather “for the better,” we receive the story anew.  We lift up the Gospel of Truth and put the wonder of incarnation on display, demonstrating that we are committed to a Kingdom that is both already and not-yet.

A Story Still Relevant

Here in New England, church attendance is no longer a cultural norm.  Unbelievers (and even some Christians) have accounted for the church in the column labeled “irrelevant.” But what if–whether by curiosity or by compulsion — an unbeliever enters our fellowship, what would be his impression of our “coming together?”  

It’s no surprise that Paul had thoughts on this.  His goal was that an “outsider” be convicted, called to account, and overcome by the reality of God’s presence.

If awe is a contagious condition, is anyone who wanders into my fellowship at risk?

Are the bread and the cup, the ministry of the Word, the lifting of voices, and the offering of gifts an empty tradition, a hollow shell —  or does grace flow like wine?

Are hearts nourished with the Living Bread until the truth overflows and splashes, soaking believers and unbelievers alike with the glorious outcome of having come together “for the better.”

Holding You in the Light,

If awe is a contagious condition, is anyone who wanders into my fellowship at risk? Are the ministry of the Word, the lifting of voices, and the offering of gifts an empty tradition, a hollow shell —  or does grace flow like wine?

A Brand New Resource for You!

What is your concept of God?

I’ve created a new resource for you, a guided meditation based on Isaiah 43 and the truth that we live and work according to our concept of God. What if you began every day with the conviction that God, YOUR God identifies himself as the God who does a new thing, who makes a path through the wilderness, who blots out your transgressions and says, “Fear not!”

I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his word, and it’s my goal to provide resources to help you along that path. Subscribers receive them automatically, and you can receive your copy by simply entering your email and then clicking on the button below…

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42 thoughts on “Every Sunday Come Together for the Better and Receive the Story Anew”

  1. I had no idea Paul’s writing preceded the Gospels. That’s so interesting! Thank you so much for yet another fascinating post on faith. #DreamTeam

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  2. Interesting. I always find it odd here that religious schools only want to let kids of their faith in – shouldn’t they want to be sharing the awe as you put it to spread the contagin (so to speak)? Interesting. I do think enthusiasm is contagious so why not awe too? #AnythingGoes

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  3. Something we should always keep in mind – are we retelling the gospel whenever we receive communion, and are we participating in worship that would inspire awe in an outsider? No matter what WE do in our church service, God is worthy of worship and our awe.

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  4. It’s amazing to me that, as many times as I have read this passage, somehow I don’t remember noticing the phrase “for the better.” I definitely want to make someone’s day better by my attendance. It’s easy for me to be preoccupied, but just saying hello and asking about each other’s week can be a blessing in itself. In so much of society, we just pass by each other without interacting. But it shouldn’t be that way at church.

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  5. If we shine like stars (Philippians 2:15) and reflect God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18 ISV) as we worship, others will surely notice and desire to experience that kind of euphoria for themselves. But such a response must come from the heart; it cannot be manufactured. It requires “hearts nourished with the Living Bread until the truth overflows and splashes, soaking believers,” just as you’ve said. Could anything else be more winsome?

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  6. These are some deep thoughts here.
    We all are in danger of the lessons Jesus gave becoming mere forms. I pray that we can enter in and learn what we need to learn.

    Thanks for sharing this at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop!

    Laurie

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  7. I know what you mean; churches in our area are actually struggling to stay open because the congregations have gotten so small it’s become a burden to upkeep the buildings and all the bills that go with it.

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  8. I had never noticed Paul’s emphasis on “coming together” before, Michele. Our church recently reverted back to its pre-Covid practice of having us take Communion in groups of six or eight, rather than with the little prepackaged cups we used individually. It is much more meaningful this way, I think, as long as I prepare my heart as I wait in line rather than getting distracted as I am prone to do.

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  9. It is a helpful to think about what our church gatherings look like to outsiders and what impression they will be left with. I always appreciate your thoughts.

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  10. My church going has been very inconsistent over the course of my life but when I have gone, its always been to Congregationalist churches that emphasized much more “love thy neighbor” than the fire and brimstone that I was exposed to at Catholic churches. I’m sure I knew that over the years I knew that you were also a New Englander but I think that I had forgotten that. #dreamteam

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  11. So many churches and communities are suffering with low congregations, none of which has been helped by the restrictions for covid – but coming together is really important. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

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  12. LOVE this post, Michele. As one who helps to plan the worship at my local church, I’m going to pass this along to the rest of our worship planning committee! Coming together really should be for the better of all of us!

    Thanks so much for joining my Grace at Home party. I’m featuring you this week!

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    1. Thanks for sharing my post—on your blog and with your friends. It’s wonderful that you serve your church family in this important way.
      I really appreciate your ministry with Renovare!

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  13. Gathering to celebrate and renew the Gospel is always a beautiful thing! Any day of the week. 🙂

    Love this, Michele:
    Whatever our tradition — bread cubes and grape juice, matzo and wine, daily, weekly, or monthly — when we gather “for the better,” we receive the story anew.

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