"The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock; never a building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray." Anonymous
Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that my presence in church doesn't matter that much - that things go on just the same without me being there. There is some truth in that statement, but it does not take into account what God says about the importance of fellowship.
We read in Acts 2:42 that the early church "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Further into the New Testament, the church is compared to the human body. You can read about it here. While this scripture talks about spiritual gifting, it also speaks of how we need one another - that we are a unit who, together, glorifies God. Every part of the body, every person, has his or her own job to do and each one is significant.
When I am absent from church on a Sunday morning, I am not merely missing a service. My absence takes away from our church body. I am not there to pray for and with others. I cannot weep with those who mourn or dance with the joyful. My voice is not lifted up in agreement with those of my church family while bringing praise and glory to God. I do receive the fresh message God gives to us. Even if I "listen to the tape" during the week, it does not compare with being there to experience the moving of the Holy Spirit.
God specifically asks us not to neglect meeting together as believers. In Hebrews 10:19-25, it says:
What better place to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" than in God's house?
And so I look forward to this coming Sunday not only as a person who is hungry for more of the life God gives freely to me, but is also hungry to see more of His life and light in everyone else.