Our thanks go out to Adam Lefever Hughes for offering this weeks’ devotion.
Justin the Martyr, a 2nd-century convert to Christianity wrote some of the earliest accounts we have of how early Christians conducted their worship. He writes: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read…then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things…then we all rise together and pray…bread and wine and water are brought…and there is distribution to each.”
As we’ve been gathering for our drive-in services, I’ve been thinking about Justin the Martyr’s words and how worship still looks like it did in the second century:
A group of people are gathered for worship.
The word of God is read and proclaimed.
A meal is shared in celebration.
Oh sure, there a lot of ways worship looks VERY different. We’re gathered in cars with our radios on. We’ve received individually packaged communion elements. These and the myriad precautions we take to keep each other safe right now make me feel that worship is quite different. But, when I consider that the followers of Jesus have been gathering to worship the Triune God for 2000 years, the turmoil the church has gone through in times past and present, and the reality of living in a country at a time when we CAN assemble without fear, I remember that God’s time is very different from our time.
God is always playing the long game. The long game of salvation; the long game of individual stories bound together in community; the long game of a love so powerful that nothing can separate us from it. Although we may be experiencing a temporary change to our worship gatherings, we are still bound together by cords of love. Love which we have learned from the selfless acts of Jesus.
The scaffolding erected in our parking lot bears the sign of the cross, holds a table with the body and blood of our Savior, and is a new tool used to proclaim the unending love of God. We, the people of God, have gathered to hear the word read and proclaimed and to share a meal. In the above quote from Justin the Martyr, we don’t hear much about the specifics of how we are to do things and personally, I don’t think it so much matters what tools we use. No, what matters is that we are proclaiming the message of the one true God. And for that, we will use any tool necessary.
May the God who forms us, redeems us, and sustains us continue to bless our gatherings and protect all our going out and coming in. Amen.
— Adam Lefever Hughes, Director of Music, St. Peter’s Lutheran, Lancaster PA