With the onset of the pandemic, many businesses changed their business practices. What was once done in person now became acceptable, and often preferred, via zoom. It saved on travel, expense, and time. Churches followed suit, streaming their worship services over youtube or facebook. While most people would recognize there are lost elements to such an approach to worship, few understand the significance of that loss. If they did, live-streamed worship would be limited to shut-ins, travelers, and a potential visitor or two. Why is that?
Worship via live-stream isn’t Worship. That is not to say it doesn’t have a place. We can talk about worship in different senses. There’s “Worship” and there’s “worship.” In the sense that you can go to God in prayer in your own quiet time, confess your sins, feel a sense of forgiveness, lift up your petitions and so on, you are strengthening your relationship with the Lord. There is a sense in which you are worshiping. But Worship in the Old Testament was formal, corporate, involved offerings and feasting. There were designated times for it, offices created for it (priest, musicians, etc) and structure to it.
Individuals brought their offerings to the priests for sacrifice on the altar. The main sacrifices, however, were brought by the king or the priests for the corporate people as a whole. These provided feasts to be shared by all of God’s people. They served as a renewal for God’s covenant with his people. God’s covenant presence was there. The same is true for us today as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. God’s covenant presence is there.
So, if you’re worshiping at home, you’re not Worshiping, in the corporate, covenantal sense. You may learn some things and enjoy the music, but you have cut yourself off from the body of Christ and the ordinary means of grace that corporate worship communicates.
You’ve also cut yourself off from the fellowship and your absence is felt. In the Old Testament every tribe had a place around the tabernacle as they wandered through the wilderness. If you were absent, you left a hole in the protection for the people. If you want to think of yourself as a “living stone” as Peter describes, built into the temple of the Holy Spirit, your absence leaves a hole in the temple and we feel it. So, come and Worship in the covenant presence of God.