The Church is the gathering of God’s people in the name of Christ. Each week here in the Cathedral we have many such gatherings.
Central to the activity of these gatherings is our fellowship with one another. There is little that we do here, that we could not do alone at home. One thing that we cannot do alone is to fellowship with each other.
Our fellowship should always seek to glorify God, yet that is not the only purpose of our meeting. We meet in this world to encourage one another in love and good works – and all the more as we see the Day of Christ approaching. So we meet to build the Church and each other by our prayerful encouragement of each other to live by the Gospel.
The way we encourage each other is by lovingly using the gifts that God has given. These gifts are given to each one of us to serve each other and so build each other and the Church as a whole. As Paul said, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Therefore, there are things that we will always do when we gather together. We will always pray to our Father in heaven by the merits of our Lord and Saviour and in the Spirit. And we will always gather to hear God’s word read and taught and seek to challenge each other to continue in faith and obedience to the scriptures message. And when we sing to each other we will do so in words and ways that are edifying – in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs we will teach each other as we express our heartfelt joy to the Lord.
There are other things that we will usually do because inevitably humans are creatures of habit. So, we will meet at the same time each week, and follow a preaching pattern or series, and we will sit in much the same chairs and sing the same songs. There is nothing wrong with doing these things, but they are not of the central importance to the gathering. They can be changed and our congregational life will not be hindered.
But churches always need to change some things. Often we need to change things so that we do not settle into a rut and fail to hear God speak or to use the gifts that he has given to us. Sometimes there are erroneous and misleading habits that creep into our pattern of church life. Once recognised these of course must be changed. The serpent on the pole by which Israel was saved in the time of Moses became an idol that had to be destroyed in the days of Hezekiah.
So here in the Cathedral it is my hope that every week we will see three things.
- The gospel faithfully ministered: that what we say will honour the Lord Jesus, build his people and save those who do not yet know him,
- Sufficient predictability about our meeting that participants can concentrate on the content and purpose of our gathering and not be distracted by secondary matters,
- Sufficient variety to make every meeting special and not to be missed