I have been struggling for a while now. Searching to answer, what is the purpose of our gathering on Sunday?
I know Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not neglect to meet, but I struggled to find the meaning in the gathering. I can hear a powerful sermon from the most prolific speakers in the world with a quick Google search. I can bask in Spirit-filled worship by pulling up a YouTube video. I have often done so in the comfort of my living room. And while the coffee was free at church, I preferred the brand I had at home.
So why? Why get up on Sunday morning to go to a building filled with people I barely know? A gathering that often gave my critical muscles an hour-and-a-half workout. What was the point? The lyrics to the songs felt empty. The sermons, while excellent, felt powerless. I completely understood the power naps my kiddos would take during our time together.
But today my church said something: Buffalo.
The young-adults pastor grabbed the mic after the first song and said, “We must say something about the tragedy in Buffalo … this racially motivated crime is relevant to us today, because it affects us all. To our Black brothers and sisters, we stand with you in prayer.”
In my astonishment, I received the answer to the question that had plagued me for years. The purpose of our Sunday gatherings was in Hebrews 10:25 all along, “to encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (emphasis added).
As a man who has battled racism his whole life, I needed to be strengthened and encouraged. I needed my church to say something. They finally did.
And as my face served as a canvas that portrayed the masterpiece that were my tears, I raised my hands in worship. My criticism was replaced by appreciation. The following songs, while familiar, were new. They weren’t empty anymore.
My church said something. And all of a sudden, the shackles that silent pulpits had placed on me fell off. My once heavy ankles, were now able to support my legs as they leapt with joy and exuberance. My raw wrists now free to experience the cool breeze of His wind as they waved carelessly through the air.
Today, my church said something. And the words from the sermon were like priceless gems I didn’t want to take my gaze from, wanting to hold on to every word as I acknowledged their worth. My eyes locked with my wife’s and I smiled. I woke my boys up from their slumber and asked them to listen. The purpose for our gathering so evident to me now.
Buffalo, my church said something, and with a few statements, created a space of warmth and belonging. I learned today that solidarity breeds oneness, where silence can only birth isolation. Pastors and preachers that use their platforms to make statements of support and stances against racism teach us, as believers in Jesus, how we should respond. Leaders who use these same pulpits for moments of silence on this evil that persists only help to build comfortable “racism doesn’t exist in our country” silos.
Today, I saw what compassion can do, I saw the power of words and the glorious paradise they could create.
For the first time in my life I experienced the words of the psalmist in Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!” (verses 1-2).
I look forward to next Sunday when I get to dwell with my brothers and sisters again and build on that unity. All because my church said something about the racially motivated murder of 10 Black people in Buffalo.
Copyright © 2022 by Jorge Rosario. All rights reserved.
Jorge Rosario serves as a cultivation and content specialist on staff with FamilyLife. Nothing in the world gives him more joy than being a son of the living God. Jorge is married to his high school sweetheart and most beautiful girl in the world, Rosemarie, and he is the proud father of three works of art, his sons: Angel, Jordan, and Jaiden.