REV DR FOREST KOH
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers... . And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,
they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost in Acts 2 transformed the Jews in Jerusalem, as well as the devout men from every nation. This transformation is evident in how the believers worship God and fellowship with one another. (Acts2:5, 42, 46) The traditional venue of worship in the temple and the synagogues is now extended to the homes of believers. When the early church faced persecution from the Roman authorities, they mostly gathered and worshipped in homes.
We may not face the same persecution that the early church underwent, but the pandemic has made it necessary to change the way we worship and fellowship too. From initial concerns about whether we would be able to adapt to worshipping and fellowshipping online, I fear that many of us have grown to becoming too casual in our online worship and too comfortable about not meeting up to fellowship face-to-face. There is no clear indication on when the church can resume the usual activities in the new normal; we don’t know when we can worship without masks, and fellowship in the church without safety distancing and restrictions on number of participants. It will probably be quite some time before we are allowed to sing praises to God in church, exchange handshakes or hug each other freely in church.
Worship is the heartbeat of the church, where the people of God gather to express love to God and His people as a congregation. Our current manner of worshipping and fellowshipping, regardless of whether it is online or onsite, has the effect of gradually drawing us further away from God and His people.
It is very dangerous for a church to solely react according to the unpredictable circumstances of the pandemic. We cannot solely respond according to the Safety Measures whenever they are updated. There is an urgent need for forward thinking.
As we rethink the core reasons behind worship and fellowship, essentially, it is all about drawing closer to God and building relationships with each other in Christ, based on His word. But due to the pandemic, the essence of worship and fellowship is falling apart. How can we overcome these obstacles?
Learning from Acts 2, the idea of the home church comes to mind. Is God driving us back to the basics of doing church through this pandemic? Like what had happened in the early church? They attended the temple together and broke bread in their homes. (Acts2: 42-47)
As we open our church to 250 pax, let’s not overlook the fact that we can also come together in our homes. I believe worshipping together as a congregation at home is also pleasing to God and builds up the Body of Christ.
To be continued next week…