I just listened to a message called Empathy and Human Flourishing by Matt Chandler from Nehemiah 1. You can hear it or download it here: it’s definitely worth listening to. I found his lead in to Communion so strong I did my best to transcribe what he said from the recording. Since I captured it made sense to pass it a long:
You have not been called to attend church, you’ve been called by God to belong to one. Not just to attend here, that’s not rebuilding the walls, that’s not creating an environment where compassion can flourish, you have not been called to attend church, you have been called to belong to one. There’s no way for us to show one another compassion where we are not known, in order to be known, preferences have to become secondary, and happiness has to be subservient to joy. If you want preference and happiness you will never let weaknesses be known by others. You will hide them and in so doing you will shrivel up the soul’s capacity to live in high levels of joy.One of the litmus test here is have you entered in to the covenant community of faith or are you purposefully staying on the outskirts for one reason or another, but is likely motivated by radical individualism. God would have you put this before you in preference and ease. Have you grown myopic in how you see the work of God in your life?
We are going to sing to the Lord and we get confused about what singing is and why it matters. I plead with you, don’t feel like its a secondary part of what we are doing. The Lord commands us to sing to to him, not because he needs to be sung to. There are heavenly creatures on repeat around the ears and the throne room of God. They never stop saying, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. No, God has commanded us sing to the Lord because we need to sing to him because in singing to him God takes what is intellectual and he drives it down into the heart and he connects the heart with the head. As we worship him in song and as we sing what is true about the Lord, what is intellectual connects to what is spiritual and emotional and that’s why God says, “You sing to me with joy, sing to me loudly, you get after me with worship and song.”