Friday, September 20, 2013

The Need to Play Tree-Fort

“I wish I could go all the way with you to Rivendell, Mr. Frodo, and see Mr. Bilbo,” said Sam. “And yet the only place I really want to be is here. I am that torn in two.”

“Poor Sam! It will feel like that, I am afraid,” said Frodo. “But you will be healed. You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be.”

* * * * * * *

As Paul walked in the Lord’s ministry for his life, he frequently felt a desire to be with the Church as it gathered in far places (Romans 1:11; 15:23; 2 Corinthians 9:14; Philippians 1:8; 2:26; 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 3:6,9,10). My heart has resonated with this idea the last few months. I’ve been thinking about brothers and sisters overseas and longed to see them. The Lord is full of comfort, though. Last week, as I stood at the Lord’s Supper Table looking at the congregation, their communion in the “sharing in the body of Christ” in the “one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16,17) was a easing salve to this pilgrim’s soul.

I am unashamed to confess that I need your coming “together as the Church” (1 Corinthians 11:18). It is that picture of the Home to which we are all wandering. Whether in open-air buildings surrounded by crowing roosters in the jungle or in the comfortable, HVAC’d confines of the gathering in the cities of the U.S.A., it’s all booths...the momentary congregating of a people eternally unified by a Savior-God, adopted by the Father-God, and indwelt with the Presence-God...all three Persons one God...all people in all congregations everywhere one Body...

I need the Gathering more and more and more as I go along.

“Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD. On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind. For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work. These are the appointed times of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD - burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day’s matter on its own day - besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD, and besides your gifts and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God”’” (Leviticus 23:33-43).

One day the sojourning Church will be Home, and the wandering pilgrims will enter the City of their citizenship, and the memory of the days of travel will be like the child-like fun of building a fort from sticks in the back yard on a lazy summer afternoon...and we shall rejoice before the Lord our God forever.

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