Call to Worship:
New City Catechism
Q. 48 What is the church?
A. God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another. [2 Thessalonians 2:13]
2 Timothy 1:4-5
Our Gracious Father, though we are not able to gather with the church today, we still praise your name and
thank you for the gift of your Son. We ask that you would strengthen our church during this time. That your
Spirit would comfort those who are alone in this season. May they sense your love this morning and the love
of their church family that you have given to them. We pray as well for our family and the families of our
church: that you would use this time of family worship to draw us closer to one another and closer to you. We
thank you for providing for our needs this week and are looking to you for tomorrow. Give us a heart of
gratitude for all that you have done for us and help us to be compassionate to those who are in need. We pray
for those in our church who may be experiencing financial loss because of the virus. Provide for their needs.
We pray for those who are physically more vulnerable. Protect them and give them peace knowing that you
are sovereign over all things. Lord, we do not know all you have in store for us and for our nation in this time,
but we ask that you would cause us to be beacons of hope and light to those who are without hope and light.
Grant repentance, healing and restoration to this town, our state, and our nation. Last of all Lord, we ask that
you would restore our fellowship and worship with your people. Be merciful to us, we ask, all in the name of
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
In light of all that is going on in our world with the Corona Virus and the measures that are being taken and all the consequences of these, I have been sharing with you (WCC) a pastoral reflection each week of what God might be doing amongst us in this time. What are we to learn from this? How might God be using this for his glory and our good?
I’ll cut straight to the chase this time and give it to you plainly. Perhaps God has allowed such a pestilence to come and such a panic to arise, in part, so that Christian fathers and husbands might be awakened to their responsibility to lead in their homes, training their children to know and worship the living God.
Now the home is no substitute for the church and the church is no substitute for the home, but by God’s design they each serve and strengthen each other. In many ways, the home is meant to serve as the training ground for children, preparing them for life in God’s world and life with God’s people. The church is an official gathering of God’s people and when they gather, parents (and in particular, fathers) train their children by bringing them to the assembly to worship the triune God. Yet, the responsibility of fathers (and mothers) goes beyond ‘taking their kids to church’. If what is happening in the Christian home day by day is no different than what happens in the home of pagans, if mother goes about her days grumbling and complaining, if father is prone to regular fits of anger, if there is no cultivation of gratitude for the gifts that God gives, if there is no praise of God on their lips, then Sunday morning worship with God’s people (no matter how spectacular) will fall on deaf teenage ears and exasperated little hearts. Of course, even godly parents struggle with their own sin and are often driven to confession to God, their spouse and their children. And yet for those parents there is at the very same time fruit of the Spirit being lived out in the home. There is both discipline and grace. The grace of discipline and the disciplines of grace.
It is common today for evangelical churches in our country to have impressive kid’s programs. And while I’m not necessarily opposed to a church having Sunday school or youth gatherings, my fear is that one of the effects of extended church programs for kids is that it has encouraged parents to think that the discipleship of their children is the job of the church. And really, when I say ‘the church’ there, I mean the leaders and/or pastors of their local church. And this is a tragedy. For when this is the case, the program and the church have done more harm than good.
In both the Old Testament and New, we have clear commands to parents to teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord. Shortly after God gave Israel the ten commandments He said to them, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6) The psalmist speaks of this in Psalm 78 where God’s people are told to tell their children of the glorious deeds of the Lord. Again, the responsibility is being placed upon parents, and particularly upon fathers. We come to the New Testament and find in Ephesians 6 that God’s design for children to be instructed and discipled in the home has not changed. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
It’s right that the church gathers every Sunday for corporate worship. As I said before, under normal circumstance, fathers lead their families on Sunday by bringing them to that gathering to worship the Lord with His people. But what happens when, for a season, that gathering is put on hold? How will fathers lead their families? Perhaps when we were able to gather for worship, you were tempted to think that your children would learn to worship and know the Lord simply by what the pastor or worship leader said and did on Sunday. And now you are in a position where that has been taken away. So what will you do? Your children need to learn about the Lord. They need to hear of his glorious works. They need to be led to worship and praise the living God.
The truth is that the training ground for worship has always been the home, but it can be easy to miss that, can’t it? And when the corporate gathering of the church ceases for a time, the need for worship in the home becomes all the more evident.
So what is a guy to do? Men, pick up your Bibles, assemble your team, read, pray and sing. Remind your children that we normally gather with God’s people for worship on the Lord’s day, but in this unusual time of not being able to gather with the church, we will still praise the Lord. Why? Because on this day Jesus rose from the dead. And because every day He is worthy of our praise.
Family worship is not the same as corporate worship. There will be missing elements, like fellowship with the body of Christ, preaching, and communion. But as we wait for the time when we can enjoy those elements together again, let us utilize the time God has given to us on Sundays to lead our children to worship God by hearing from His Word, praying to Him and singing His praises.
May God’s blessings come to you and your home as you do so in faith. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.