Come Together for the Better

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’ 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.”

According to John MacArthur, Paul’s account of Jesus’ last Passover celebration in the Upper Room 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 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.

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 — whether by curiosity or by compulsion — if 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.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

49 thoughts on “Come Together for the Better”

  1. “Are hearts nourished with the Living Bread until the truth overflows and splashes,” What a beautiful image you’ve painted, Michele! May we help His truth overflow and splash. God bless you. Your #livefreeThursday friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele, in reading your post, I was struck by how quickly and easily our hearts stray. These people lived so close to the time of Jesus’ last supper. I appreciate the beautiful way you remind us to come together for the better. Blessings!

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  3. Wow… such great questions.. Is our awe contagious?? And especially this one–> 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? My heart is convicted… Thank you Michele ♥ (Also I laughed so hard at how your minivan became your moving tabernacle on Jaime’s site…too funny! Work with what you got right?!)

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  4. Very good questions, my friend. Only we, the members of the body can make the church live. Only we can act, live out our lives, in such a way that make seekers say, “I want what she’s got!” May His will be done. Blessings on your week, Michele!

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  5. “Overcome by God’s presence”…oh, that is what I long to be continually present in my life! I long for it to be so present that it will spill over into the lives of those around me! I really appreciated this post, Michele, and I leave here refreshed in spirit, once again. 🙂

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  6. Thought provoking and poignant questions here Michelle. thank you for this remarkable challenge for us to come together with a purpose. May we never take for granted or forget the sacrifice of our Savior. He rose again and desires that we live for Him while sharing and living the truth of the gospel. Thank you for the reminder. Have a blessed weekend.

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  7. Michele,
    Sometimes it’s difficult living here between the “Already” and the “Not Yet”…Thank you for asking tough and thought provoking questions that beg, “Are we doing this in awe, reverence, and remembrance of Him?” or are we just going through the ritual?? Once we part from one another, are we better for having been together?? Thoughts to ponder…
    Have a good weekend my friend,
    Bev

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    1. Sunday morning can be the most frustrating day of the week — or it can be the biggest blessing. God, help us to come together in awe and reverence, to remember the reason for the gathering!

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  8. Oh, how well I know that New England mentality on church (I’ve lived in CT my whole life). Sometimes I gets so frustrated with it, but sometimes I wonder if it’s really just more of an outward sign of hearts in other places. I have friends that describe those places where you go to church every week, but you’re not really there.
    I guess the heart is that we all need Jesus –whether we say it or not.

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  9. Great writing here, and thought-provoking reflections. It is important to remember why we gather together and also to consider what our gatherings will be like for outsiders coming in.

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  10. Beautiful images and word pictures of the church. I had such a sweet time of fellowship today at our little 25 person church in Izmir. Led worship with my son’s best friend, wonderful consolation since my son’s gone back to school now. 🙂 Blessings on your week, friend.

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  11. Very thought provoking, Michele. That “New England” mindset is everywhere. We witnessed it in Montana and it has become a normal thing here in the Bible belt. Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

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  12. “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?” Yes, we need to remember this. Thanks for reminding us that we need to come together for the better! You give us much to think about. Blessings to you, dear Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You ask the hard questions…I think it’s being a long while we have gone down the slope. Church has become a routine!
    It’s sad friend but we had it coming when we chose hypocrisy instead of true worship

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  14. Michele, I love your thoughts here. We should be intentional in our gathering together, in our sharing in communion. Thank you for the reminder that we should live out our awe of God (and His love for us) in how we celebrate communion, in how we gather in fellowship at church, and in how we live our everyday lives. You’ve left me thinking. Thank you.

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  15. Hello fellow New Englander! I had no idea! 🙂

    My husband’s ministry is pulpit fill, and he has preached at many pulpits in New England. It is a sad commentary that it would appear the church in New England is dying. But we are encouraged that there is indeed a remnant of faithful Pastors, continuing to preach the Word in the power and strength of the Lord.

    Some of the most spirit-filled churches we have visited are not the big churches with all the flash and dazzle, but the humble, small churches, where you can just sense the love of Christ and love for His Word.

    Thank you so much for reminding us of the intent of attending church, according to the Apostle Paul and of course, God the Father.

    Blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so admire you and your husband — that’s not an easy calling! Right now we are between pastors and so are being ministered to by some faithful men of God who are in the same line of work as you are! I’m eager to learn who will be our new shepherd, but in the meantime, I’m really enjoying this season in our church family’s life.

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  16. Thanks for your thoughts Michele, I appreciate them as I had just read this section of Corinthians. I pray that as faithful we can come together and shine His light to this fallen world.

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  17. Love this post, Michele…”come together”…gives a whole new meaning to the old Beatles tune…”come together over Me”…when Jesus Christ is in the center of our worship and we celebrate His perfect finished work on the Cross, we overflow His Presence everywhere we go ❤️

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  18. I am most convicted by your post, Michele. All too often, my part in the coming together of ‘church’ itself is far from pleasing to the Lord. On the other hand, I was quite convicted several years ago about the importance of coming the Lord’s Table with a pure heart. I have since made certain that I do not take the Supper in an unworthy manner…as much as I am able. Thanks for linking this wonderful post at The Loft.

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  19. “If awe is a contagious condition, is anyone who wanders into my fellowship at risk?”
    I love this. I fear far too often we as Christians take ‘fellowship’ for granted and just go to check a box-when we go at all. We truly need to get back to true fellowship. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Love this so much, Michele! As you know, I’m all about church, but your questions do make me pause. Especially this one: ” 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?” Too often, I’m tempted to be satisfied with the superficial answer without really looking into the heart.

    In the end, though, I’m convinced “coming together,” is infinitely preferable to going it alone!

    Thanks for sharing at today’s Potluck at the Loft!

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    1. I’m with you! And the Word of God is clear on it as well, so let’s persevere together in building those bridges. So often I find that my Sunday mornings are spent “doing business” and chattering.

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