1 Chronicles 16:1-6

They brought in the ark of God, and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and they offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before God. When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord; and he distributed to every person in Israel—man and woman alike—to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.

He appointed certain of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief, and second to him Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, with harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and the priests Benaiah and Jahaziel were to blow trumpets regularly, before the ark of the covenant of God. 1 Chronicles 16:1-6

Sometimes I worry about the future of local congregations. Not the church as the Body of Christ, I trust that will endure until the last day. I worry about the future of local congregations as we have known them. They have been getting smaller and older for years.

There has never been a time in my life, even those years when I had nothing much to do with the church, that there weren’t many congregations around me. All communities of people with histories and futures. Buildings and programming. Cornerstones of community life.

I happened to stumble upon the Lutheran church when I was in college. A Lutheran college begun by farmers who wanted their children to have a good education. I was warmly received. I was accepted at a seminary built by immigrants who understood the value of well educated pastors. Due to their vision and generosity, I was provided with a good, affordable, education. A congregation in Cheyenne, WY, welcomed me for a year of internship. First one, then two, then three congregations in Houston have called me to serve them. I have always felt the shoulders of the giants before me upon which I stand. I have always wanted to return the favor to those that follow. But I worry.

How many articles have I read through the years about how people are losing faith, not in Jesus, but in the local congregation? The days of “oh, they’ll come back when they have children” seem to be going quickly away. “We’re losing the millennials!” the articles tell us. Why? Usually the blame rests on the local congregations. I don’t buy it.

Seldom does anyone note that it takes work to get up every Sunday morning in time for worship. It takes time to volunteer doing things to make a local congregation function. It takes money to pay the bills of the staff and the building. And even more money as local congregations pitch in for community efforts to help the homeless, the hungry, the victims of disasters, as well as other ministries like colleges, seminaries, missionaries, etc. It takes work, time, and money that are all voluntary. It is far easier to sleep in, let someone else do it, and keep all of our money to ourselves. So I worry.

Then I watch the resurrection happen again on Sunday morning as, once again, the people gather. People who have been around their whole lives, and people who are brand new. And I remember that it is the Holy Spirit who calls and gathers the Christian church. My hope is renewed.

David gathered the people together in the wilderness. He set up a tent for worship. They didn’t have air conditioning but I trust they still appreciated getting out of the sun. He brought the ark, the very presence of God, into the presence of the people. They celebrated with worship and a barbeque. He set aside some people for service in the worship life of the people. They did church. Simple. Gathering, worshiping, eating, celebrating, and moving on with life. And we are still doing it today. My hope is renewed.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we take so much for granted in life. In every age you raise up people who shepherd the worship lives of your people. You raise up people committed to carrying on the work of Jesus. You raise up people who delight in their heritage and devote themselves on your future. Thank you for local gatherings of Christians, for congregations of every flavor and stripe. Thank you for creating so many spaces that invite us to give of ourselves, our time, our talents, and our treasures in blessing the world with reminders of your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “1 Chronicles 16:1-6”

  1. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    This devotion gives me hope

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