WHY SHOULD WE ATTEND CHURCH?
By The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
During the week I am constantly looking for ways that the Lord is trying to communicate with me. I depend on this communication when I prepare sermons. Sometimes I'm inspired by the Scripture reading, or a Saint that we celebrate on a day close to Sunday. Often, some of the best inspirations come from people that I interact with on a daily basis. Many people ask me questions about religious matters, and as I endeavor to answer them, the Lord communicates with me to help me answer their question. More often than not, I am left awestruck with the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives me to answer questions.
This past week, a person asked me this question: "God is in my heart, and I believe in Him; however, I see no reason what-so-ever to go to a Church to worship Him. I can do that anywhere I am, and anytime I please!" First of all, this is the oldest excuse known to avoid going to church. Not only is it the oldest excuse, it is the most spiritually starved of all excuses. The person claims that God is in their heart, but they do not feel the need to worship Him in Church on Sunday.
It's a very true statement that God dwells in your heart, and that you can worship Him anywhere or any time you like. I fully encourage you to do just that! Worship Him while you're at work, at rest, at meal times, at bed time, absolutely any time is the proper time to pray and worship God. However; it's essential that you gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ to worship Him together as a "Family of God".
Naturally, I did not agree with the person that thought going to church was not necessary. When I told them that I thought attending church was a vital part of a Christian's life, they asked me to help them understand why. Here was the answer I gave that person:
I first asked this person if they gathered on Thanksgiving with their family to share a Thanksgiving meal, or perhaps at Christmas, or during other holidays? They answered, "Yes, I do." I asked if it was important to them to share meals with their parents and sisters and brothers? They answered, "I think it helps me bond with them, so I would say it's very important". I asked, "Even if you do not gather with your family, you still love them don't you? They replied, "Of course I do, but my parents would be hurt if I didn't want to gather with them as a family!"
Then I said loving someone and thinking about them is not enough, in the case of your parents, you find that being in their company, and sharing meals with them nourishes your relationship with them, right? They answered, "Yes, I think it does nourish the relationship."
God is your Heavenly Father, right? I asked. They answered, "Yes, He is, I believe that". Then why do you feel that it's okay to stay away from Church, and the wonderful Holy Communion Meal that your Lord and Savior has prepared for you, when you think that staying away from meals that are prepared by your earthly parents is harmful to your relationship with them?
Which relationship is more important to you, I asked. They answered, "My relationship with God!" I replied, Your actions tell me that the relationship with your parents has more value to you than the one you have with God. "It's not the same thing!" They told me, "Communion is not a meal like a meal with your parents and family!" Oh, but it is, I replied. I quoted Scripture to this person that supports the fact that Holy Communion is indeed food for everlasting life:
John 6:48 "I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live for ever."
I went on to tell them; you see the Lord is our Heavenly Father, and all Christians share one Heavenly Father. The Lord is the bond of love that ties us all together as a "Family of God". We are all brothers and sisters of the same Heavenly Father. Although, the Lord makes His abode in our hearts, He still expects His children to gather together and share the Holy Meal that He died on the Cross to institute.
Just as your parents would be hurt if you refused to gather with the rest of your family for special meals, your Heavenly Father is hurt because you reject the Holy Meal He has invited you to.
Why is this important to Him? The same reason it is important to your parents to share fellowship with their children, not just one at a time, but as a family unit. When we gather as a "Family of God", we are strengthened by the love of this Holy family that we are part of. We share a common bond of love, and through this bond the "Family of God" becomes stronger and reaches out to others to include them in this spiritual family.
It was at a "Passover Meal" that Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Luke 22:19 "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." His commandment was clear, that the Holy Meal be celebrated in remembrance of Him.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we have evidence that the tradition that Jesus Christ started was continued: Acts:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."
Sunday is the first day of the Christian week; the name for Sunday in Greek means "The Lord's Day". At this point, I begin to see that the person was starting to understand the point that I trying to make.
Many times I read the accounts of Saints that would go into the wilderness for solitude; however, every Sunday, they would make a trip to attend the Divine Liturgy, to receive fellowship and to partake of Holy Communion for the spiritual nourishment of their souls. Even though these Saints spent nearly every waking hour of their lives glorifying God and praying to Him, they still respected His invitation to the most important meal of the week, Holy Communion.
If a person refuses to eat, the result is bodily starvation, and eventually physical death. If a person refuses to partake of Holy Communion, then spiritual starvation results, which then leads to spiritual death.
The wisdom in offering Holy Communion every Sunday is to keep us spiritually well nourished and prepared for the day when we will meet the Lord in Heaven and celebrate the Marriage Feast of the Lamb of God in His Kingdom.
RETURN TO THE SERMON LIBRARY
RETURN TO OUR HOME PAGE