This week at Saar Fellowship we begin our advent sermon series: Gather Round. Reading and studying for the first message I found myself in 2 Thessalonians 2:
“Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here”.
(vv.1-2, NET, emphasis added)
We love to gather at Christmas and commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus, don’t we? But is this all there is, is this the best gathering we will ever experience: Christmas with loved ones celebrating Christ?
Let me tell you that when Jesus returns the gathering of believers we will experience will make Christmas look like a dry dress rehearsal. How we long for that day and that gathering!
Did you know there is a preview available to you, right as you are and where you are?
The particular word Paul used in his letter that we read as ‘our being gathered to be with him‘ is very telling. It’s only used a couple of times in Scripture; here and in Hebrews 10.25 to describe…the formal gathering of the church.
When Jesus returns He will gather us to be with Him (verb – ἐπισυνάγω) and when we assemble as the church each week this is exactly the same thing, Scripturally (noun – ἐπισυναγωγῆ).
As we gather as the church each week we are preparing, rehearsing, getting ready for the gathering we will experience when Jesus returns. Shines new light on ‘going to church’, doesn’t it?
J.C. Ryle said this in 1878, something to pause and ponder as we head into this festive season and have to decide where we will spend our time:
“How could that man enjoy the meeting of true Christians in Heaven — who takes no pleasure in meeting true Christians on earth?”