Fr. Paul A. F. Castellano
What's Going on Here?
So, we’re at the beginning of a new week. We’ve just left the warm glow of Sunday worship. Millions of Christians from various denominations gathering together to worship God. Some even acknowledged this past Sunday followed the Churches historic celebration of the Transfiguration of Jesus the previous Friday.
Yet, with all this transpiring I often wonder “what’s going on here?” You see, in all my years of Christian worship and subsequent Christian ministry, I’ve come to understand two very important factors concerning Sunday worship. Two factors that I sometimes feel, very few of us truly recognize no-less appreciate. The two factors are:
1. We are commanded (not requested, suggested, cajoled, pleaded with, or begged) to meet with God BY GOD HIMSELF.
2. We are to meet Him in His “House.”
Now some of you might immediately say, “Well, Fr. Paul, this isn’t new to us.” And you might actually believe that. But consider the following, how many people and how often do people, state that they understand that they are “commanded” to meet with God on Sunday and yet, don’t attend? Reason and reason, excuse after excuse is given as to why those who are called to be God’s children; called to worship God with all their heart, mind, soul, AND STRENGTH; don’t move heaven and earth and everything in between to ensure that they make this eternally scheduled appointment by the God of the universe? The God of their very salvation?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking about legitimate issues such as sickness or emergency. No, I’m talking about people being tired because of the previous Saturday’s festivities. I’m talking about people who decide, “Gee, it’s such a beautiful day, I think I’ll go for a walk in the park or the beach.” I’m talking about people who would rather skip church to watch their favorite sporting event. I’m talking about people who SAY they understand that they are commanded – COMMANDED – by God to meet with Him at His House, but in their lives, seem in practice, not to understand the implications of such a command.
If that’s not bad enough, then there are those who DO attend church and treat it as just another opportunity to participate in some social gathering rather than a worship service. They enter the church through the narthex, proceed into the sanctuary, they enter the very house of God and start to prattle on and on and laugh, joke, tell stories, not at all experiencing, sensing, acknowledge that God is HERE; this is His House; we are to comport ourselves accordingly. And by that it is meant that the moment they stepped through those church doors into the narthex, they have traversed the secular and entered the sacred; they have moved out of the profane to the holy; they have moved from earth to heaven where God is dwelling on His eternal, celestial, transcendent, divine, sovereign throne.
I was lamenting this just yesterday with Fr. Mike McDonald. I hope I don’t need to cite ALL the verses in scripture to support this? There are hundreds of verses for each point above. But for those who need such things, here are just a few verses:
Exodus 20:4 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exod. 20:4-6 NKJ)
Exodus 34:14 `(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), (Exod. 34:14 NKJ)
Deuteronomy 6:1 "Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, (Deut. 6:1 NKJ) [with worship of God being one of those commandments).
Deuteronomy 10:20 "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.
(Deut. 10:20 NKJ)
Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written,`You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" (Matt. 4:10 NKJ)
And the list could go on. God commands us, He warns us of the consequences of NOT meeting with Him, the consequences of NOT following His commandments (and in this instance, specifically His command to worship Him). Jesus reiterates this very divine command. The fulfillment of this on our part is to meet Him in His House – church! Look at the following texts:
1 Chronicles 28:6 "Now He said to me,`It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father. (1 Chr. 28:6 NKJ) David, ‘the man after God’s own heart’ was denied the privilege of constructing a dwelling place for God; that was left up to Solomon.
Jeremiah 11:15 "What has My beloved to do in My house, Having done lewd deeds with many? And the holy flesh has passed from you. When you do evil, then you rejoice. (Jer. 11:15 NKJ) The place where we meet with our God is HIS HOUSE.
Hosea 9:15 "All their wickedness is in Gilgal, For there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious. (Hos. 9:15 NKJ)
Ezekiel 23:39 "For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house. (Ezek. 23:39 NKJ)
Ezekiel 44:7 "When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it-- My house-- and when you offered My food, the fat and the blood, then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations. (Ezek. 44:7 NKJ)
Matthew 21:13 And He said to them, "It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a `den of thieves.'" (Matt. 21:13 NKJ)
Matthew 12:4 "how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (Matt. 12:4 NKJ)
1 Timothy 3:15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15 NKJ)
1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet. 4:17 NKJ)
The place we are commanded to meet God, Church, is God’s House; referred to by that title by God Himself. Should we not do all in our power to ensure that we make that meeting with the God who commanded us to be present? And in our being present, should we not comport ourselves in a manner worthy of the Great and Sovereign God of the Universe who is before us?
Soli Deo Gloria