This is the title of a hymn (sung to the same tune as “Bind Us Together”) by Charles Wesley, which I discovered in our Methodist hymnal. I am familiar with benediction songs, but don’t think I had ever heard a regathering song.
I love how this song brings into focus something that we often take for granted, until it doesn’t happen–the fact that, when we get back together with others, we actually all have made it through another period of time, alive.
And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
There are six verses to the hymn (which is on the short side, for Charles Wesley, I’ve discovered). I won’t quote them all here. I do especially like the questions and the thoughts provoked by the third verse:
What troubles have we seen, what mighty conflicts past,
fightings without, and fears within, since we assembled last!
I appreciate those questions being voiced in the context of a church meeting. Stopping and looking around and realizing that not only in my own life, but in the lives of those around me, we come, not bringing amazing tales of heroics and greatness, but rather, choosing to worship together and cling to the Lord together, within the context of all of our ongoing suffererings, fears and conflicts.
Our Sunday finery might suggest a with-it-ness, but the reality is often far from “with it”. When that is the case, we do ourselves a service to make space for that brokenness and that pain and that suffering. If we think we need to cover up the troubles we’ve seen in the interlude between meeting with these brothers and sisters, if we feel like we need to be someone else–someone more exceptional and perfect–in order to show up at church, then we will neither find nor give the comfort, strength and encouragement that we were designed to give each other.
The other verses in the song celebrate the Lord’s sustaining and redeeming power, His salvation and the glad hopefulness of continuing to share in the sufferings of the cross.
And are we yet alive? If so, let’s take a good look around and actually notice what the Lord’s faithfulness has really meant for each of us since we last met. Let us consider what His faithfulness really looks like, not in some glorified, whitewashed way, but in the very real realities that each of us lives in.