September 27, 2020
With so many firsts, I was not sure what to expect last Sunday. It was our first time to use our sanctuary in six months, so we were reconnecting a lot of equipment. To further complicate matters, it was also the first time to integrate video clips into my sermon and the first time to stream a live worship video feed. Much could have gone wrong, but, thankfully, there was only one glitch. The sound from the video clips did not go through on the video feed. We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.
But another first was far more significant. Last Sunday was our first time to divide up into two services. One of the things I love about being part of a small church is seeing everyone together at one time. But with concerns over the coronavirus, our church council members and I felt that it was important to maintain social distance. The only way we could have enough space for that was by splitting up.
It might seem difficult to be unified when we are meeting separately. But unity in the church is not based on meeting at the same time under the same roof. When we look to the early days of the Jerusalem church in the book of Acts, we find that they proclaimed the gospel publicly in the temple courts but prayed, worshiped, and learned in separate homes (Acts 2:46-47; Acts 5:42). With thousands of new Christians, no single building would have accommodated them. As the church spread to other cities, believers continued this same pattern. We find evidence in Paul’s greetings in Romans 16. The church of Rome was unified, but divided into different home groups.
So, what is it that unites the church? Consider these passages.
1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
– Bryan Craddock