“gath-er-ing” noun… An assembly or meeting, especially a social or festive one or one held for a specific purpose.
There’s just something about a gathering. We look forward to them for weeks, even years in advance. When we are through with a particularly successful “gathering”, we revisit the good points in our minds by looking at pictures, talking about our favorite parts, and thinking about the next time we’ll be meeting together.
What is it about a gathering that makes it so wonderful? Well, the people involved play a huge role! I love to gather with my family. We can make an occasion out of anything! Birthdays, holidays, weddings, new houses, baby showers, baby gender reveals, loosing a tooth, changing of seasons, practicing new songs…we’ll bring food and have a party over it! My dad’s side of the family is the Muncher family. We are known for singing and “partying”…and there are lots of us. We can really pull off a gathering, especially at Christmas. We sing, dance, have talent shows…you should really come and be a Muncher for a night–it’s great!
And don’t you love those gatherings with friends? Especially the friends that you haven’t seen in awhile, but you can just pick up where you left off as if you just saw each other the day before? I have some friends like that, and I cherish my times with them. When I meet up with these friends, it seems like the minutes turn into seconds and they run away before I can catch them. There’s never enough time to catch up.
One of the sweetest gatherings is with other Christian believers. I totally believe that “where two or three are gathered in the name”, God is with us (Matthew 18:20). I feel His presence all the time, but when I with my church family, whether it be my home church or any group gathered together in His name and for His purpose, His spirit is so sweet and holy.
There are other things that make gatherings so delightful. There are the memories we visit, the laughter we share, and, of course, the food we eat! Yes, gatherings can be so rewarding and enjoyable.
I do have to acknowledge, however, that I have been a part of some gatherings that were not exactly enjoyable. Maybe a stressful parent meeting at school, or a meeting with a friend to discuss a difference between us. A funeral when I couldn’t understand why… And yes, even a church service at a place where there was division among the gathering. Those weren’t my favorite meetings. But they do cause me to think about what I bring to the “gatherings” in my life. Do I bring a divisive spirit? A bad attitude? Half-hearted attempts?
I am not a perfect person. As a matter of fact, none of us are! If I was left to my own devices, my offerings for the meeting would not be very grand. I’ve never been described as “the life of the party”–I’m too quiet and reserved for that. I’m not much of a cook (although my five year old loves my pb&j’s). My decorating skills are…lacking, and that’s being kind.
But here’s the great news: I haven’t been left to my own devices. God takes my insecurities and replaces them with peace. He takes my crummy little peanut butter sandwiches and offers a feast in my place. He takes my unattractive, uncreative décor and replaces it with the grandeur of heaven. He replaces my attitude, arguments, and complaints with His grace.
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20) He really is the Life of the party, isn’t He?
There is coming a day when we will have a gathering like no other. We will gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ on the shores of heaven! And what a gathering it will be! There are really no words that can adequately describe the wonder, the amazement, the joy of what that moment will be.
My great-grandparents were married for 70 years. When my great-grandmother was in her eighties, after suffering a series of strokes, her family knew she was about to go to live with Jesus in heaven. My great-grandfather bent down close to her ear and whispered “Wait for me by the river, will you? I’ll be there soon.”
I think he thought he’d go to heaven a little sooner than he did…he actually lived on this earth to be almost 102! At his funeral, his daughter smiled through her tears and said, “He finally got to meet up with Mama by the river!”
One day, friends, we’ll gather at the river that flows by the throne of God. What a wonderful gathering we have to look forward to! This is our story, friends, and this is our song! Take a listen…