Will We Worship Together? And what does that mean?
Passover wasn’t celebrated in the first month,l which was the usual time, because many of the priests were still unclean and unacceptable to serve, and because not everyone in Judah had come to Jerusalem for the festival. So Hezekiah, his officials, and the people agreed to celebrate Passover in the second month.
Most of the people that came from Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not made themselves clean, but they ignored God’s Law and ate the Passover lambs anyway. Hezekiah found out what they had done and prayed, “LORD God, these people are unclean according to the laws of holiness. But they are worshiping you, just as their ancestors did. So, please be kind and forgive them.” 20 The LORD answered Hezekiah’s prayer and did not punish them.2 Ch 30:1–4, 18-20 CEV
Before all else, the teacher of peace and master of unity desires that we should not make our prayer individually and alone, as whoever prays by himself prays only for himself.
In Cyprian’s words about the Lord’s Prayer, we find described a call to pray together. Not just physically together, but really together. To pray with one heart and one mind.
It was the reason for Passover being delayed that year so that all could pray together. That those who were unclean, those damaged by sin could deal with it, according to God’s provision. According to how God laid out one could become cleansed of sin.
They, as a people, needed to pray together, they needed to worship together, they needed to realize that they lived in the presence of God, who so desperately wanted to care for them.
But they needed to do it together.
I will repeat myself, not just together physically, but together spiritually, emotionally, cognitively.
We need this today as well. Isolation is oppressive, we grow more and more distant apart. We become more protective of what belongs to me and less aware of each other, and each other’s needs. Cyprian describes that well, as he talks about only praying for oneself.
That needs to stop.
We need to be praying for everyone. Everyone in our church, everyone in our community, everyone we don’t feel like praying for.
So as we come together, let us pray that the Lord unite His church and the communities in which it dwells. May the church help the community to learn, not only how to find reconciliation, but how to love.
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69.