The word “when” is a word that seems to be filling more conversations lately. When will our kids go to school with friends again? When will our favorite restaurants fully open? When will there be large gatherings again? And so on.
The word “when” in those questions denotes a sense of hope and longing. The presence of “when” means the person asking holds on to hope that a time is coming when… Those questions are very different if the word “when” is removed. “When will there be large gatherings again?” is a very different question than “Will there be large gatherings again?”
Some ministry leaders have hinted that one implication of the post pandemic life will be that many people will not feel comfortable in large gatherings again – including worship services filled with lots of people.
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters has weighed in on the future of large worship gatherings. Ok, not exactly what he was writing about, but he does provide some incredible insight. About large concerts Dave Grohl wrote in an article in the Atlantic last week:
In today’s world of fear and unease and social distancing, it’s hard to imagine sharing experiences like these ever again. I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life. But I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other. I have shared my music, my words, my life with the people who come to our shows. And they have shared their voices with me. Without that audience—that screaming, sweating audience—my songs would only be sound. But together, we are instruments in a sonic cathedral, one that we build together night after night. And one that we will surely build again.
Though Grohl did not use the words “worship” and “community,” his description surely paints the picture.
We are created to worship.
Because the Lord created us to worship Him, we are going to worship something. We won’t be satisfied unless we worship Him, but we are going to worship. We are going to find something or someone to offer ourselves to, to declare as great and worthy. The early church father, Origen, said “What each one honors before all else, what before all things he admires and loves, this for him is God.”
We are created to worship together.
Not only were we created to worship, we were created to worship together. We were created for both worship and community. According to Grohl we need to sing arm in arm at the top of our lungs. By worshipping in community, we are reminded that we are not alone. Yes, we are reminded of our fragility, but we are also reminded that God’s grace has rescued us from ourselves.
When will we gather for worship together again?
I agree with Dave Grohl: “I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs… but I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice.”