Sunday, April 5, 2020

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Journal of a Lockdown No. 24

Perhaps it is during Sunday mornings when the pain of separation hits the hardest. Christianity has always been in the context of the Church, God's redeemed people. During Sundays the Church is called to gather to worship, to fellowship with one another, to encourage one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

That we have the internet to connect us virtually is a blessing during these extraordinary circumstances. But online worship services are not quite enough. Tim Challies, one of my favorite bloggers, writes:

Watching a church service online was novel the first couple of weeks. And while I’m grateful it’s an option, three weeks in I find myself grieving the necessity of it, and longing to be back with the people I love.

Dr. Albert Mohler, in this beautiful essay, carefully distinguished listening in from listening among.

No Christian should believe that meeting online offers the same spiritual benefits as if we met together physically, in time and space. Nothing can replace the people of God in one room, praising the Father, Son, and Spirit together in song; nothing can compare to the physical gathering of God’s people who together receive the preached Word. There is no substitute for this kind of gathering.

[...]

But there is a crucial distinction—indeed, a crucial theological distinction—between listening among and listening in. Listening in is a gift of God’s common grace. To be able to listen to thousands of sermons and theological lectures online is indeed a wonderful treasure for Christians. But listening in on these gifts is not equal to what happens when we listen among God’s people, physically present together as we praise God and hear his Word proclaimed.

Last week Tim asked his friends all over the world to document their private worship spaces. There are photos! It's beautiful and touching—a reminder that believers all over the world sing songs and listen to God's Word preached in various languages and contexts.

Sunday mornings are precious to me and my family. My parents gave a particular premium to honoring the Sabbath Day (and rightly so)—my father, especially, who was set on coming to church on time; punctuality, he said, was showing how much God was important to us. This meant that growing up, we should be sleeping early on Saturday nights (not a problem for us), wake up extraordinarily early on Sunday mornings (not a problem for us, either), and take showers earlier than usual (a problem for us, for which, among my brothers, I received the most number of reprimands).

As in the past three Sundays, I worship in the living room. I sing to familiar music. They're among my favorite songs in church. The preaching is streamed online. I imagine that I'm seated with Manong in the central row on the Third Floor of ESNA Building. I'm taking down notes; I memorize the week's passion verse (usually at the last minute!) lest Pilgrim Men, the Bible study group where I belong, will be called to recite. As I head out of the church building to find a good place for lunch in the Timog Area, I'm greeted with handshakes and hugs, small talks (mini-praise items, prayer requests), medical inquiries, and invitations to church seminars and events.


Pastor Bob's preaching is on Genesis 22:1-14, "On the Mount of Testing: God Tested Abraham."

Here are my notes from today's sermon.*

Lockdown No 24 Preaching Notes

Lockdown No 24 Preaching Notes

Lockdown No 24 Preaching Notes

Lockdown No 24 Preaching Notes

Lockdown No 24 Preaching Notes

How did your worship go? Do let me know through email or comments. I hope to see you, dear reader, soon—hopefully in better circumstances.


*For the curious, paper is from a random pharma-generated writing pad I found lying at home; pen is a TWSBI Eco Rose Gold Medium Nib inked with 25% Diamine Chrome and 75% Waterman Black.

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