To be a fan of the game of baseball, do you need to actually attend the game in the ball park? The answer is no. First, who can afford to? Secondly, baseball, like other sports, maps out the fan base and you find many fans in areas hundreds of miles from a ball park, which means a fan base is built on radio, television, and news. In my childhood, most days were spent reading about the game in the newspaper and recapping every aspect in the box score in the Houston Chronicle. Today finds me watching the game on television some, listening via the MLB app mostly, and reading and recapping the three teams I follow via the MLB app each day. I am a fan of the game, follow three teams, and yet I rarely go to a game in person.
So, can you be a Christian and not attend worship? In reading about the Third Commandment in the Small Catechism, and in talking to pastors from various faith backgrounds (not all Lutherans), I still like our Pastor's rules when it comes to faith: God is God; I'm not God; let God be God. Yet, the unanimous viewpoint of those who study and become pastors is you need to be in worship with the Body of Christ to really be a practicing Christian (so much for the "I can be a Christian and be with God while fishing" argument I used to put forth).
Yet in our fast-paced, 24/7/365 society where kids' activities, our activities, and routines dictate schedule, we find ourselves often ignoring or looking past the Third Commandment of "keeping the Sabbath Day holy" (soccer especially took Sundays away from this family with tournaments in far away places...mainly because we let it I suppose). Luther is clear on this though: "God requires Christians to worship together" citing Acts 2 ("they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers") and Hebrews 10 ("not neglecting to meet together"). He also notes that God doesn't specify a day (Romans 14:5-6) since, as was noted yesterday, all days belong to Christ, but that the church observes Sunday because that is when Christ rose.
Worship is an integral part of our faith, not because it is commanded any longer, but as a response to God's love through His Son's suffering, death, and resurrection. It is where we pray as the body of believers, confess our sins and hear the forgiveness of those sins, sing hymns, hear God's Word, and receive the Sacraments. While we can appreciate God's creation and be with God, we are to also be with the body of believers regularly.
Pray that we engage in formal worship routinely and that we worship our God in those times. Pray that we do so out of respect and in response to the love God has shown us through His Son's sacrifice for us.
Hope Men's Ministry