When Christians gather, we often gather in rows. Have you noticed that? We file in and sit down on either pews or chairs and look straight ahead. From this position, we can easily see the cross at the front of the sanctuary, make eye contact with the Pastor in the pulpit, see the words on the projection screen, and watch musicians lead us in singing. In rows we can see many things . . . however in rows we don’t see “one another.” In rows, the best we can do is see the back of the head of the person in front of us.
Gathering in rows is not a bad thing to do. In fact, gathering in rows has its advantages, allowing us to do a number of things including:
- Focus on the object of our worship . . . the risen Christ, instead of focusing on the new outfit our friend is wearing.
- Maximize our space . . . the way to get the most people into the sanctuary is to sit in rows.
- Unite the entire congregation around a single focal point.
For all of its advantages, however, gathering in rows can also create problems in our understanding of the Christian life (if we are not careful). The New Testament is full of exhortations for us to connect to “one another.” Over 50 New Testament commands (40 of them by the Apostle Paul) instruct the Christian to do “______” to “one another.” Certainly the fulfillment of all these commands is not limited to times of corporate worship, however, after a lifetime of sitting in rows, Christians can row themselves into some wrong conceptions about the Christian life.
While, it is true that God desires me to personally embrace Him in faith, my faith is far more than personal. It is communal. It is a faith shared by millions of people. It is a faith shared by my church . . . by my small group. Sitting in rows looking at the back of the head of the person in front of me does a good job of making me think about my own faith, but does not necessarily prepare me to think about the Body I have been saved into.
It is interesting that when Jesus instituted a sacred symbol for His followers, He used a meal around a table. Sure, we sometimes think of the last supper from the upper room as a row (after all we’ve seen the picture right?) but in reality, the Last Supper was held around a table, where intimate fellowship, conversation, and camaraderie were shared . . . along with the cup and the bread. The group was still gathering around a focal point (the object of their worship Jesus Christ) but they were doing so in a posture that also allowed them to see their fellow follower. Their faith both connected them to Christ AND to each other.
This Sunday, as we gather at Wildwood Community Church to worship (9:30 and 10:50), we will be gathering around a table – the Lord’s Table. We will focus on the object of our worship, but we will also remember that the Christian life is often better lived with a table mentality. I hope you will join us as we celebrate this great truth.
Additionally, we will be celebrating the baptism of 7 people in our morning worship services!