“Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.” Claudio, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare
God does something special when His people come together as a congregation. When we sing, take communion, baptize people, listen to the preaching of God’s Word, His presence comes to us in a special way. Psalm 22:3 (ESV) says that God is “enthroned on the praises of Israel.” King James Version says that God “inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
In other words God’s presence comes to His people in a special way when they praise Him corporately. While there are so many issues in churches everywhere, issues that do demand our attention, God is still in the business of meeting with His people in a special way when they gather to praise Him, read His Word, and participate in sacraments like communion and baptism.
I visited a church this past Sunday and I did not know anyone there. I slipped into the service and slipped out. I did not try to talk to anyone, and the church was large enough and in a transient enough community that I am sure it is challenging for those who are members to know who is visiting and who is not.
But that did not stop my heart from being full of joy while we worshiped and listened to the Word of God preached. I took communion because every believer in that building is my brother or sister in Christ. And there was joy.
The expression of joy in that church was different than the expression of joy at the church I am a member of. This church was more formal and sang only hymns with a guitar and piano. But, Oh! All the lovely harmony as you could actually HEAR the congregation sing. The church that I am a member of has electric guitars and drums and bass guitars. You cannot hear the congregation sing, but there are some wonderful sounds coming out of those instruments. And there is joy there too. It is somewhat more demonstrative. Hands do get raised, some people sway. Still the church I grew up in had a different joy. I recall a tambourine and some dancing during worship. And yet that church is less demonstrative than many other churches.
And ALL of it is joy. The silent wonder and beauty of harmony in standard hymns. Or other wonderful harmonies found in more upbeat gospel songs. No matter the form of worship, when it is founded on the truths of who God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is and what He has done for us, it will bring joy to God’s people.
Please hear me friends who are struggling with anxiety or depression. Sometimes we do not experience that joy. And when we do not, we must keep looking for it. Trusting that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy and asking God to help us experience it as we seek to keep our eyes on Him. Sometimes God will use worship alone to drive the darkness of these things away. Sometimes He will use medication, counseling, or a combination of all these things.
The truth is that there is something special about God’s presence when His people come together and praise Him. There is joy and it looks and sounds different for each person who knows the love and grace of God. So let us not forsake meeting together as the beautiful, but still not perfected bride of Christ – the church. May we gather shoulder to shoulder with other sinners who need a savior just like us. Experiencing the joy of God together.
Where do you plan to go to church this Sunday?