Word for Wednesday…Neglect
“But those who neglect to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, even though they are ceremonially unclean and not away on a trip, will be cut off from the community of Israel. If they fail to present the LORD’s offering at the proper time, they will suffer the consequences of their guilt” (Numbers 9:13, NLT).
During this time of pandemic, so much has been neglected. Haircuts, eye exams, and routine visits to the dentist are among the things that we have been putting off until the very last minute. Fortunately, this neglect has not led to consequences any more severe than a cavity, glasses held together with tape, and a few bad hair days. There is, however, something many folks have been neglecting that will likely lead to severe consequences, and that is meeting together with their fellow believers to worship. Before you stop reading because you think I’m being completely unreasonable by making such a statement, especially since many churches, including Brick Church, only recently began holding in-person worship services, please hear me out! I am not suggesting for one second that high-risk individuals or people who feel sick should be attending in-person services. In fact, if you are simply more comfortable staying at home on account of the virus, I completely understand. The fewer germy people I have to avoid on a given Sunday, the better! But if you are choosing not to attend in-person worship, are you taking advantage of the virtual options that are available to you? If you are reading this post, you have access to the internet, and therefore access to your church, but are you going? In the passage quoted above, the author of Numbers is in the midst of a discussion about Israelites who neglected to participate in the prescribed acts of corporate worship, such as the festival of Passover. A few verses earlier, he acknowledged that there were legitimate reasons for failing to do so, such as traveling, or being ceremonially unclean on account of touching a dead body. For these individuals, there was a system set up whereby they could celebrate the festival at a later date. But individuals who failed to participate and did not have legitimate reasons for doing so, they would be cut off from the community. I have always acknowledged the existence of legitimate reasons for not participating in corporate worship on any given Sunday, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t “make it up” somehow. And with so many churches now offering virtual options, you have almost no excuse for not doing so. For the same reasons, the legitimate reasons for missing church have significantly diminished. The handful of people in our congregation who do not have access to the internet get a free pass. Whether they want it or not, each week I take them a copy of my sermon manuscript. But those folks excluded, no follower of Jesus should be neglecting to participate somehow in the weekly worship that their church is offering. If they do, they are cutting themselves off from God and their community, and in a time when both couldn’t be more important.