Summary: Three reasons why we are called to worship together as God’s people.
Why Do We Worship Together?
Today every one of us got out of bed and got ready and came to this church to spend our morning singing hymns and songs, to pray together, to listen to God’s word, and to share fellowship with one another. And this is happening right now at churches all across our province, our country, our continent, and our world. More people get together on Sundays to worship than to engage in any other activity.
At the same time we’ve all met people that, when invited to come to church, have all kinds of reasons for not going: “It’s my only day of the week to sleep in.” “I don’t have to go to church to worship God.” “I have to work on Sunday mornings and there’s no way I can get out of it.” “I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” “Everyone who goes to that church is a hypocrite. There’s no way I would go there.” And on and on it goes. Counter one excuse and another will likely pop up to take its place. There’s not much a person can do to convince someone else to come to church.
Even more interesting, really, are the reasons people have for attending church. I mean, think about this for a minute. No one is forced to attend church and to come and worship! It’s completely voluntary. Nobody handcuffed any of us and drug us here this morning. Well, perhaps the occasional husband and the odd child are exceptions! But they say that a good test of someone’s values is what they do with their spare time, what they do when they don’t have to do anything.
So let me ask: why are you here this morning? What led you to get ready this morning to come and walk through those doors? I mean, I get paid to be here! What’s your reason? But seriously, is there any other place that you would rather be right now? When you come here on Sunday morning, is the time you spend here inspiring? Are you truly glad to be here? Does your heart leap with joy at the thought of being able to go to church? Does it encourage you in your walk with Christ? Does it challenge you to walk more faithfully in your relationship with Christ? Does it move you either through words or deeds to share your faith in Christ with your neighbours? What happens when you leave through those doors? What do you take with you?
Well, our next song for the road is Psalm 122 and it’s the song of someone who decides to go to church and worship God. Read Psalm 122. I love how this psalm begins. Verse one begins with an invitation to worship: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” Right off, the psalmist is positively excited about getting together with his people to worship God. When was the last time you invited someone to church and they had that reaction! When was the last time you were that excited to go to church?
I began by asking about why some people decide to stay home from church—and then went on to ask, why would someone go to church? Psalm 122 gives us at least three reasons to go to church and worship God together as a congregation. And it also tells us what we take with us when we leave so that our worship of God on Sunday mornings spills over into the rest of the week.
Reason #1: Worship Gives Structure to Life
Verse three of Psalm 122 reads: “Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.” The verse seems to be referring to the architecture of the city—how all the pieces of stone and masonry fit together. There are no loose stones, no leftover pieces, and no awkward gaps in the walls. All the pieces fit together compactly and with harmony, each doing what it was made to do.
But more is meant here than the architecture of the city. While Jerusalem is a geographical location it was also the center of Hebrew worship. For the ancient Hebrews being in Jerusalem reminded them of the foundational realities of faith. It reminded them that ultimately their lives and their stories were shaped by God. Jerusalem is the symbol and sign of God’s presence in our world. And just like the structures of the city itself, the Hebrews knew that only through God would all the various pieces of their lives fit together—in other words, God is here with us and it is God who helps our lives make sense and helps us to make sense of our lives.
So what was true for the Hebrew people is also true for us. Just when nothing in life seems to hang together, when nothing during our week has made sense, or we feel like a loose stone ready to fall out rather than one that fits perfectly in its place in the wall, we come to worship. We come before God. We pray. We encourage one another. We hear God’s word. We are reminded that God saves us, that He heals and redeems. God fits the pieces together in ways we never can so that our lives are, as our passage says, “built as a city that is firmly bound together.”