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going-to-church2I found this simple reminder from James K. A. Smith moving:

The very fact that we’re here—that on a Sunday morning, one of the few times that the city’s streets are quiet and even the steady hum of consumption and production gets a bit quieter, here we find people streaming into a space to gather for worship of the triune God. Singles and families, seniors and toddlers, make the effort to gather together at an appointed time not of their choosing.

We could be still snug in our beds at home, or enjoying the New York Times Magazine with a coffee on our front porch. But instead we are part of—let’s be honest—a rather motley crew that has made its way here.

Families have wrestled with children to make them presentable, and some probably argued in the car on the way here; students have perhaps only just felt the warmth of bed after a Saturday night of entertainment when they “have” to emerge, bleary-eyed, to “go to church”; senior citizens who find themselves secluded in nursing homes have been craving this day all week, when a deacon or friend drops by to pick them up to gather with the saints for worship. . . .

Smith also looks at the contrast with those who aren’t gathering and what that implies:

There is a certain hint of scandal here, of a reality that cuts against the grain of our late-modern liberal sensibilities: for as we’re making our way to worship, not everyone is coming.

Our neighbor’s home might still be quiet and darkened; folks down the street might already be mowing their lawn; we might walk softly through the dormitory hall because many of our peers won’t emerge for hours; we may even be leaving family members in our own home who don’t answer this call to worship, this summons to gather.

Since we, on our own, don’t have the inclination or ability to answer the call, our response in gathering is already a sign of God’s redemption and regeneration at work. But the neighbors and strangers we pass on the way also remind us that God’s peculiar people is also a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9), called out from among the nations, graced “without why,” elected to be a renewed people for this still-sleeping world.

—James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 161.


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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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