As much as we love our church family, going to church is not always restful, so last night my Farmer and I decided that our family would hold services at home today. (And although we don't operate by democratic vote, we did ask the girls, individually, for their opinions. Sugar, Spice, and Nice each said, hopefully, that they thought they'd like having church at home).
So after the breakfast dishes were cleared away this morning, the cats and chickens fed, we gathered by the piano to sing "Joy to the World" to Sugar's accompaniment, with Spice playing along on the lap harp. That's the extent of their accompaniment abilities at present, so we moved to the kitchen table with our hymnals and sang "Blessed Be The Tie That Binds" and "The Servant Song" and "How Great Thou Art" and a few more, till our voices ran dry.
Lil' Snip was provided with Legos and a couple of Golden Books, and the rest of us pulled out our Bibles. Spice volunteered to take notes. Since we were "being church", we wanted to see what the Bible had to say about it.
Sugar remembered reading Hebrews 10:24 & 25 the other day, so we started there:
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
We added to that Hebrews 3:13, which reminds us that we are to encourage each other daily to keep ourselves from being hardened by sin's deceitfulness. From this, we decided that "meeting together" must mean something other than only Sunday morning church meetings, if we're to be encouraging one another every day. Might it mean simply that we keep company with other believers on a daily basis?
We talked about how spending time with people regularly helps you to know them better, and then your encouragement can be more specific, and probably more beneficial. That "spurring one another on toward love and good deeds" might take the form of giving vision to each other of what could be, something to move toward, like a mule moving toward the carrot dangling in front of him, getting the hard work of plowing done because his eyes are on the prize.
Sugar read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 for us. We decided that Paul's point was for us to wait for each other, share with each other, don't be greedy, and don't be divided. We turned to 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 to see again that we should be orderly and take turns, that everyone has a part (see also 1 Corinthians 12:12-31), and all are needed. Singing would be part of a meeting, Paul assumed, and teaching, prophesying, and speaking in tongues (but only as long as there was an interpretation). We confronted those troublesome verses about women and their role in church services, reading the study notes in the Bible and talking about our own experiences.
Time was flying by, so we only looked at one more passage: Colossians 3:12-17, which doesn't tell us what to do at meetings, but how to live with each other. We should be peaceful, thankful, forgiving, teaching & admonishing one another.
Another hymn, a break for tea and graham crackers, and the children began to disperse. It had been an hour and a half. (I should blush to say it, maybe, but I don't remember our family ever sitting down together for that length of time before for anything, let alone to study the Bible together. Our evening "family time" which does include singing and Bible reading is usually only 20 minutes, max.)
"That was nice! The time went fast!!" Spice said happily. "It felt more like church, somehow."
"It was more restful," agreed Nice. "We didn't have to hurry and get ready in the morning, and then hurry to make lunch when we got home."
Staying home, in fact, gave me ample time to make a simple - but hot! - lunch of rice and chicken, a nice improvement over our usual PB&J. We ate early, comfortably instead of ravenously. Going to church somehow always works up in us a terrific appetite.
After lunch, Sugar, Spice, Nice & Lil' Snip changed into playclothes, put on their snowsuits and headed out to play in the snow, a motley crew of colorfully padded roly-polies. They're out there now, scooping up the fluffy stuff and kicking it, making piles and messages and occasionally flinging it at each other, while my Farmer and I relax a bit before calling them in for afternoon Quiet Time.
I don't know when I've enjoyed a Sunday more.
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Do you know of other passages about Christians meeting together? I'd like to hear them ...