WHY SUNDAY MORNING?
" But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." John chapter 4, verses 23 and 24
If the officers of any Church give consideration to spiritual growth and revival they will, in my view, come ultimately to two issues in the Church. They are of equal importance and react one upon the other.One is some regular gathering for prayer. Some collectivity and fellowship in prayer is essential however small the numbers. No Church ever reaches beyond the range of its collective prayer of faith. The difficulty is to persuade people that this is so and to induce them not merely to attend but to come in the spirit of prayerful faith that the Lord may be able to be gracious. We may echo the question of Mary to Gabriel, and exclaim: "How shall this be?" Whatever maybe the precise answer to the question, and there is an answer, we may be sure that such a prayer gathering is not unrelated to the other issue of the worship of the Church on Sunday morning.
In a general way it is true to say that while church attendance has deteriorated badly in the last thirty years, the fall in numbers has been registered more in the morning than in the evening services. That many Church members have a sound reason for being absent from the morning worship we cannot doubt, but making full allowance for the demands of duty within the home and sometimes at the place of business it would be true to say that there has been a growing and serious neglect of the morning means of grace. In many cases ministers have concentrated in the morning on the younger generation of the boys and girls. The family pew has disappeared and, in so far as we dare trust figures at all, statistics show that we have not in this way arrested the unholy haste with which young people of 13 and 14 desert us. But as the numbers of children at the morning worship increase and the minister gives more consideration to them so in some cases he mournfully watches the decline in the attendance of adults. It is simply true to say that from various causes, some of which are beyond our control, Church members are regarding attendance at church once on Sunday as normal, and of the morning and evening worship are choosing to come in the evenings. We at Rye Lane have a good deal for which to be thankful: for our morning worship is valued by a large number. Yet it may he profitable if we review as carefully as we may the significance of the morning worship, its intention and purpose and severally ask how far each may be contributing to it and receiving from it what seems to be its important ministry. May I, therefore, point out that the morning worship is essentially
1) A GATHERING OF THE CHURCH
When our Lord uttered the words of the text to the woman of Samaria, He was stating an important consideration. God is Spirit and worship such as God is seeking, is the worship of the Divine Spirit by the human spirit. Worship is innate in fallen man, but fallen man cannot worship God the Spirit. When a man is redeemed through faith his spirit, dead in trespasses and sins, is quickened by the Lord, and it is that human spirit brought to life through faith in Christ that is the medium of fellowship with God the Spirit. Hence none but Christians, born again of the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ, can enter into the fellowship of spirit with Spirit in the high and holy privilege of worship
. Generally on Sunday evening the Gospel is preached to the intent that men and women may believe in Christ, be born again, their spirits dead in sin, brought to life that they too, may have fellowship with us, for the fellowship of the Church is with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. But on the Sunday morning it is the Church that born from above gathers together. Men and women by the Holy Spirit are gathered together as those who by grace share the Divine nature, whose citizenship is in heaven. Every serious believer must be concerned about his or her devotional life. There must be daily occasions when the redeemed spirit of the believer is reaching out to the Father of spirits, when the ear listens to the Voice of the Holy Spirit as the Living Word is read and as the heart in response makes audible in the Divine ear the prayer and thanksgiving of faith. This will mean a knowledge of the will of God, an experience of the power of the divine life and a consequent walking in truth.
To this daily custom must be added the coming together on the Sunday. The believer who has been nourished in the quiet place by heavenly ministries during the week now has the opportunity of uniting with others of like experience. There is a reciprocal ministry. The individual believer is strengthened as he joins with others of like mind, for heavenly fellowship, and equally so his presence helps others. The occasion is not to be a sombre one, but it is to be a serious one. Everyone of us would find it a great help if we were to make it our business if possible to be here at least five minutes before the service was due to commence. And then apart from a kindly greeting to such as were near, gave ourselves to thoughtful and prayerful preparation for the service. If we are venturing upon holy things, let our thoughts be wholly occupied with them! Further, it is
2) A GATHERING OF THE CHURCH TO ITS' LORD.
Let us begin with a familiar text: " Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18: 20), We feel this to be a very great comfort when the Prayer Meeting is attended by just a few. Let us not doubt that it is true, but we must understand its truth. Our fellowship with the Father of spirits is through our spirits. Worship is the coming together of the redeemed spirits who have been quickened by the Living Lord in heaven, a coming together that together they may come to Him. Jesus is where they are who are gathered. in His Name,but where are they ? As to a gathering in a room, perhaps by no means large, seeking in simple faith to wait upon God, their spirits are not tethered to the room!
Jesus is not where our bodies are but where our spirits are and if we are truly engaged in worship our spirits are where Jesus is! The normal interpretation of this verse of Scripture gives us a bcwildering sense as we vainly imagine Jesus coming from heaven to visit each and every company of the Lord's people wherever they may be on earth. That is not the teaching of Scripture! Where two or three are gathered together in the Name of Jesus, where do they meet? The average Christian supposes they meet on earth but the man who knows the ways of heaven knows they meet within the veil. So the writer to the Hebrews (10:19) declares, "Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus......let us draw near," Every child of God worshipping in his redeemed spirit enters by that spirit within the veil, where Jesus is. Where believers by their redeemed spirits enter into the holiest THERE is Jesus in the midst. Hence our worship is gathered within the veil. We in Rye Lane Chapel thus gathered, as many as are worshipping in spirit will be in spirit where Jesus is, within the veil. Those in the same redeemed spirit, sharing the same divine nature will be all gathered from every part and from every nation within the veil.
Christians may talk as they will about united services on earth but the enlightened child of God knows that all true communion is within the veil where Jesus is. How profoundly magnificent are the words in Hebrews 12:22 to 24: "But ye are come unto Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, who are registered in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men perfected and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant and to the blood of sprinkling.." Men may think of Jesus coming to them, but in the light of Scripture true worship in spirit brings us within the veil in heavenly fellowship with all whose names are registered in heaven, even while they still worship on earth. Far beyond that to the heavenly throng and best of all, to Jesus Himself. In such an environment we know the abounding inspiration of the Divine Will. I cannot but think that if every member of Rye Lane Chapel realised how true this is and what might be the high privilege of the morning worship nothing but unavoidable and inescapable duty would keep us from the hour of heavenly fellowship. And in such cases, as with the sick and aged, there would be such a spirit of faith that in spirit we should in sober truth meet around one common mercy seat.
3) THE LORD'S BLESSING ON THE GATHERED CHURCH.
The minister with such a ministry on the Sunday moming, will need great grace to discharge so solemn a responsibility. If the Church thus gathers to enter within the veil, then hymns, prayers, Scripture,demeanour, heart attitude and faith will be prepared in the secret place. The gathered Church will be seeking the heavenlies where Jesus is, the minister will be at their service. And as the service proceeds, what will happen? Surely the individual church member entering within the holiest, with all those gathered, will be conscious of a kindling within of deep and profound love for the Lord. Our worship is often dead, our hearts unresponsive and we take it as normal. We do not know that our spirits have been enslaved to the body, and we have not entered within the veil of the heavenlies, although we may have entered what is termed a place of worship. Too often we come in and we go out without any love for the Lord kindled afresh in our hearts. Like the woman with a spirit of infirmity, Satan bound for eighteen years, we go in and out of the place of worship, untouched, unhealed and unloving. It becomes so normal that we imagine nothing otherwise to be the will of the Lord. Love for the Lord is a pure emotion of the spirit of a redeemed man, and if that spirit is not energised afresh in worship within the veil then love subsides.
With many of us our Christianity is a matter of principles loosely held, and love for the Lord is dead. As the Lord baptises us individually with His love we shall be moved to the doing of His will. As such, a love is kindled at the Throne of Grace in each believer so it will be creative in thoughts, actions and attitudes one to another. It is true worship kindling afresh love for the Lord that kills envy, pride, malice and self-seeking within the fellowship. Situations that cannot be resolved on the plane of earth will be resolved within the veil. There is no solution on earth for the problem of a believer who will not in love be subject to the Lord's people. Surely as Jesus washes the feet of the disciples He declares that those whose spirit is one with the Father will be the first to serve, the first to suffer and the first to be humbled.
Love never triumphs among Christians whose worship is outside the heavenly veil, but love always conquers hearts that meet where Jesus is. And I need hardly add that since the deep mystery of redemption was conceived in heaven before the world was, they who worship within the veil will bestir themselves about the lost. You could not possibly speak to an unbeliever? That may be true, but what you are declaring is that you have not yet worshipped within the veil where Jesus is. The grandeur of redemption has not yet dawned upon you in its heavenly revelation. There in His Presence, there in His majestic Person the springs of a true evangelism are opened in the spirit of the believer who loves the Lord and humbly loves His people. This I believe to be the experience, which, in a thousand ways should be that of believers as they gather for worship on Sunday morning. I hope that as we thus remind ourselves of the exceeding high and holy privilege we shall not only make it our duty to be present as often as we can, but to be present in faith and in expectation and never to be satisfied to leave the place of worship without having entered in within the veil. As often as we thus enter and our hearts are kindled we shall long to renew the opportunity and Sunday morning will be one of the great and holy privileges of our lives.
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