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The Joy of Church

by Anthony Wasilkoff

Do you remember your first Feast of Tabernacles? Mine was 1966 in Squaw Valley, California. What a magnificent experience! Blythe Arena was somewhat drafty but that did not matter to the thousands of us who were there. We had two services a day and still could not get enough!

Attending Sabbath and Holy Day services is a blessing that many brethren do not have because of age, distance or financial limitations. They earnestly wish they could attend but cannot due to circumstances beyond their control. With God’s guidance, they do what they can by having church at home – with the help of webcasts, DVDs and CDs. They make the best of their situation and are blessed for it.

For those able to do so, what are the compelling reasons to attend services? Here are four reasons that make regular church attendance important and even urgent.

The first and foremost reason for attending church is to worship. The Sabbath is a holy day. Holy convocations (commanded assemblies) are prescribed for all holy days. This means we should make every effort to attend and appear before our Great God and His Son.

The second reason for going to church is to be taught. It is educational to listen to sermonettes, split sermons, sermons and Bible Studies. Listening to announcements, opening and closing prayers has value and significance. Listening to special music, vocal or instrumental, is inspiring, uplifting and motivating.

The third reason for church attendance is for fellowship. Typically, this occurs before and after the service but never during when to do so is disrespectful and disruptive. In mainstream churches, the pastor often has to make a mad dash from the pulpit to the exit to bid each parishioner a quick farewell. In the church of God, worshippers may need a tactful hint that it is time to vacate the hall!

The fourth reason for regular church attendance is to participate. Many tasks are required each week before, during and after the service. Every job is important and every person is needed. Too often, a few do the majority of the work. What is needed is inclusivity – having as many people as possible learning to do as many jobs as possible on a rotation basis as much as possible.

The church instructs members to stay home when they are sick and possibly contagious. If we are suffering from an illness others may contract, it is important to quarantine ourselves until we are well. However, we should notify others that we will be away and help find a replacement for our assigned duty for that day.

Did you ever listen to a sermon at home that you later heard at church? The message was meaningful at home, but was significantly more beneficial when heard at church. Our Heavenly Father inspires not only the speaking at church but also the hearing. Our Creator inspires the listening at home but even more at a commanded assembly. Even if there is not a live speaker, the audience will be live and God will bless our hearing that much more under such circumstances. We must make every effort to joyfully attend each and every church service remembering those who wish they could as well.

© 1995- United Church of God-Canada

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