“Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in your praise” (Psalm 106:47 NKJV). It was a heartfelt petition expressed by the Psalmist. Earlier, he had rehearsed God’s faithfulness to Israel through a recitation of “awesome things” such as the parting of the Red Sea, but he had also recounted the people’s faithless response that had ultimately led to their dispersal among the nations. Indeed, the biblical writer longed for Yahweh to demonstrate His mercy once again and gather His people back together in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And when that was realized, he envisioned taking part in an unbelievable worship event of thanksgiving and praise!
I admit that I have adopted a modified version of that prayer in my life lately: “O LORD our God, gather us to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in your praise.” We have been scattered. Many have rightly held up in the safety of their homes. And even though they have been contacted by friends/family and have joined the church through technological means, they have felt isolation physically, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually. I am convinced these recent days have revealed the necessity of authentic relationships with God’s people and an innate desire for the church to be gathered physically. We were correct in times past when we said the church is not the building, but perhaps we should have further emphasized that coming together is an essential function of the body of Christ. If nothing else, the difficult season we are experiencing has reinforced that truth.
Thankfully, we will begin to see our prayers realized as we ReGather this coming Sunday, May 17, with worship only. We understand that our full ReGathering will be a slow, methodical process and that we may not be able to return to certain activities for some time. Believe me, our aim is to ReGather as quickly and as safely as possible; and we are expecting to meet that desire. I ask you to remember that this season is both temporary and transitional. This will not last forever.
For the immediate future, we will encourage a hybrid model
of worship—both online and on campus. While we are certainly ready to see our whole church family, we understand that there are those who are concerned about their health and thus may not be able to attend. And my friends, you should make decisions with which you are comfortable. Don’t allow this decision to add extra stress to your life! (There are too many other things that are vying for that privilege to burden you!) I know that the Phase 1 reopening guidelines encourage the vulnerable (“the elderly” and those who have compromised immune systems) not to attend the on-campus gatherings. Thus, we will continue to provide those worship opportunities through our livestream, television, or radio broadcast. And as we move through the next few weeks/months, God will eventually gather us all together.
For those who do choose to attend our physical gathering, please know we have made preparations and adjustments that we believe will contribute to your safety. Indeed, we have been meticulous in cleaning the facilities and in organizing the worship services in ways that should allow you to feel at ease. You can find our plan and its specifics on our website (update.temple.life).
“O LORD our God, gather us to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in your praise.” That is my prayer specifically as we attempt to ReGather together. See a lot of you Sunday as we give thanks and triumph in His name!