[00:00:00] Thank you! It is so great to be back with you and we are living in such interesting times right now, as we've been getting ready for Halloween this week. And what does Halloween look like in the midst of a pandemic? And, and so many things in our world are getting de-personalized. We're, we're, we're pulling further and further apart from one another.
[00:00:19] And this has been happening for a while, but I was imagining if you could go back to previous centuries and you could have a conversation with someone and you could show them the way that we do things today, It would probably be hard for them to wrap their mind around it. Like, just take the lunch that we had last week.
[00:00:36] We, our family went to the Queen Creek campus, shout out to all of our friends in Queen Creek and afterwards we decided we're going to go have In-N-Out for lunch. And so we go to In-N-Out where we're in our vehicle, we're in the drive-through and we get up there and we take our order and the person doesn't learn my name and I don't learn their name.
[00:00:55] And that's not really important for what we're doing. There's there's, there's not that level of [00:01:00] connection there. And then we drive up and. And when it comes to pay, all I got to do is like wave my watch, you know, in front of this device. And these funds from the cloud, you know, come down and, and so In-N-Out gets what they want from us.
[00:01:13] And this employee gets what they need. They're getting paid and I'm getting food and we have this whole exchange and. And we don't know each other. We don't, we don't know much about anything and it's very de-personal, and it's just, we've become, you know, used to that, that this de-personalization of how we interact with one another. We go
[00:01:33] yeah, that's just, that's just lunch. That's just how we do that. Or imagine if you have a question you want to ask somebody a question you want to learn something. How do you go about learning things that you don't know when you find somebody like, well, I want to know more about it. Do you, do you go find a grandparent around you?
[00:01:50] Do you go find an elder of your community to go and ask a wise learned person? No, you Google it, right? You just got to go on your phone. [00:02:00] You're going to Google it. You're going to figure out the answer to what you're looking for. No relationship necessary to figure that out. And in the midst of a pandemic, you can imagine how the theme that we've been on of let's just pull back from people is only increasing, which is why this series that we've been in as a church is, is so fascinating.
[00:02:21] How do we have foundations that we build our faith upon not just to exist, not just to survive, but to thrive. And so today we're going to look at the final one of these, and if you've got your Bibles, I want to encourage you to get your Bibles out and go to Romans chapter 16. And that's what we're going to be in.
[00:02:41] Just a moment. And the title of the message today is, is called "Worship Together". As we're looking at, in this season, especially of kind of pulling away from everybody, what does it look like for us to come together. How do we see the value in this? How do we make sure we're getting that. [00:03:00] Now in each of these, there's kind of a question that goes with it, of, of how to process whether or not we're doing this.
[00:03:05] And so here's the question that goes with this one. Am I making it a priority to gather weekly with others at Central spending time in worship and learning from God's word? And so as we seek an answer to that question, I want to go to the book of Romans chapter 16. And if you don't know what Romans is, Romans is a letter from the apostle Paul to the church
[00:03:30] in Rome, to the believers in Rome, and it's believed that Paul was likely riding from Corinth. And so he had relationship with those believers as well. Those are the books of first, second Corinthians, and he's got a group of people with him in Corinth, as he's communicating to the church in Rome. Now Romans as a book, maybe one of the most popular books of the entire New Testament and the passage we're looking at today and probably chapter 16 in general is [00:04:00] one of the least looked at parts of one of the most looked at
[00:04:04] books. So we're going to go to Romans chapter 16, beginning in verse 21. And what you're going to see is there's a whole bunch of names that Paul is going to bring up as the people who are with him. And here's the deal. This is just free. If you're like pregnant and you're looking for baby names, here's a whole bunch of unused names from history that you could resurrect and bring back and people are going to go, man, you sound.
[00:04:28] So like, so biblical, you know, and, and these are just names that we don't use any more, but you'll, you'll see why we probably don't use them anymore. But I wanted to just read a section where Paul's going to name a few people, and he's going to talk with the people who are with him, in Corinth after he's been writing this letter to the church in Rome and Romans 16, verse 21.
[00:04:51] Paul begins with a few names. He says Timothy, my fellow worker sends you his greetings as do Lucius, [00:05:00] Jason, and Sosipater my fellow Jews. I Tertius the one writing this letter for Paul send my greetings too, as one of the Lord's followers, Gaius says hello to you. He is my host, and also serves as host to the whole church.
[00:05:16] Erastus the city treasurer sends you his greetings. And so does our brother Quartus. And that just riveting stuff. These are the verses. Most of us, we just read and we go like, yeah, yeah, we skip over. It's like the genealogies, like, yeah. I'm sure that how some point don't really know what the point is.
[00:05:32] Let's just keep reading. Let's get to the next section. That sounds good. And so much of chapter 16 is a list of names, names of the people he's writing to names of the people that are with him. And it's interesting. It's it gives you a glimpse into the early church, as we look at these names. Now as just a fun aside, if you want to go and dig deeper into this this week, go through, read the names and number 16, just notice how many women you find.
[00:05:59] There's one [00:06:00] of the radical natures of the early church that we see a whole bunch of female names in this list. But I want to look at a few of these names together and go, what does this teach us about gathering together? What do we learn about the early church, how they gathered together? In real time we get it like a behind the scenes
[00:06:18] look as Paul goes, let me tell you who's with me here. What do we learn about them? Well, here's a few of the names that we just looked out and you have Timothy, Paul refers to him as the fellow worker. Now we know about Timothy elsewhere. This was kind of a younger man. Paul had been a mentor too. He had really poured into Timothy and he's a very special relationship with Tim is with Timothy.
[00:06:42] We see this elsewhere in Philippians chapter two. Paul says this, but you know how Timothy has proved himself like a son with his father. He has served me in preaching the Good News. So Paul's got these, these, these co-workers these, these people who are just full time into [00:07:00] the ministry with them and,
[00:07:01] and Timothy is there and he's going, Oh, Timothy Timothy also sends his love to you. You mentioned a guy named Gaius who's the host, you know, and so guys was likely the one that was funding, what Paul was doing. He was, he was making it possible for Paul's ministries. He's footing the bill. If you will. And it's also believed that the guys probably had a house, a home that was big enough for the church to gather in.
[00:07:27] So, so he's really one of these people that that's making a lot of this possible through his resources. And I can tell you, anyone in ministry is grateful for people like this, that, that host and allow ministry to happen. And Paul references Gaius elsewhere as well that they had a special relationship in first Corinthians one.
[00:07:47] We hear Paul say that I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, which is a fascinating statement there. Paul's I look, I'm not into the baptizing thing and that's not really my [00:08:00] deal, but I did baptize a couple of you. And in that short list, There's this guy Gaius he had been baptized by Paul and now he was, he was funding or hosting a lot of Paul's ministry.
[00:08:13] The next name we've see is Erastus the city treasurer. This would be a public official. And so you begin to see the kind of people that were involved here now, Erastus was probably friends with Gaius and these were both high status people. These were influential leaders in the community, both through the roles that they played, the leadership that he had.
[00:08:36] And the resources that they brought to the table. And so he's referencing guys and he's got this guy Erastus he's going, look, this is how this, this church has early church has influenced. There, there are so many people that are being brought into this, but there's two names in particular that I find the most fascinating of this entire list.
[00:08:56] It's these two names Tertius and [00:09:00] Quartus. Now these names may sound super weird to you. Maybe you're like, these are just weird Roman names. Well, you may not realize what these two names, these names are actually numbers Tertius is three or third and Quartus is fourth. Oh, why would someone be named a number that's kind of weird, right?
[00:09:22] What do you have to understand about the Roman culture and the culture in those times not everybody had equal value as a person. It wasn't like, Hey, we're all created equal here. That was not the idea there, that there was different levels of personhood of who's really a person and who's not quite a person.
[00:09:43] And in this culture and a lot of the culture in which the new Testament, the old Testament is written. It's based on the male head of the family. If this was the full person. And then depending on how close you were to him or what relationship you had with him, you were some degree off of [00:10:00] that. And even in that culture and the Roman society, this was very much the way it worked at the head of the family was the full person and a son, the firstborn son may someday achieve that.
[00:10:10] But as a child, he wouldn't have that, but then there was other people that it was just assumed you will never amount to that you will never achieve that. What about those people? Well, if you were born into that kind of a family in that kind of a situation, when it came to naming you, they would just give you a number.
[00:10:31] You're a third born. You're fourth born. And so Tertius and Quartus were likely slaves or servants. And, and because they're included here, they probably worked for Gaius. It was part of Gaius hosting. Paul was including the people that worked for Gaius as well. And so you have these other two people who, who are not like Gaius and Erastus at all.
[00:10:55] These are third and fourth are included there. And [00:11:00] I imagine there's this moment, this, this Holy sacred moment as Paul is wrapping up this incredible letter to the church in Rome. Now there's 16 chapters. He looks around, he goes, all right, we got to make sure that everyone represented here gets to say, thank you, gets to speak their voice into it.
[00:11:17] And he begins naming people. And then he looks at Tertius who his job had been to write down the book of Romans. It was his hand that actually penned it as Paul would describe it to him. What Paul wanted to say. I think Paul looked at him and he said, Tertius why don't you also give a greeting? And I can imagine everyone in the room kind of looked forward to went Tertius?
[00:11:44] You want Tertius to include his name, this name that means nothing. That, that, by the very name signifies, he has no status. You want Tertius to send his greetings? And Paul goes yeah. Tertius why don't, why don't you say [00:12:00] something? So you get this incredible passage that's easy to miss, but as so loaded with what the early church looked like, and we see this in verse 22.
[00:12:11] I Tertius the one writing this letter for Paul send my greetings. I mean, I imagine Tertius' eyes are watering as he writes this. Two. As one of the Lord's followers. See Tertius wasn't just doing a job. He, he was bought in, he was part of the early church and this early church was including him in a way that culturally made no
[00:12:38] sense. And so Tertius third gets to say, I send you my greetings as well. That now I have a voice. Now, now I am included. And I imagine it's Tertius is the one that says, and so does our brother Quartus, you know, cause Tertius is like, looking in the corner. And Quartus is like get me in there. [00:13:00] Look, if you're in there, get me in there.
[00:13:01] This will be amazing. And we have this passage recorded. That Tertius and Quartus are included as well. And when you begin to understand this, the little snapshot and to what did the early church look like? It speaks volumes for us today. When we gather to worship. Andy Crouch, the editor of Christianity Today has called this the most sociologically stunning chapter in the whole Bible.
[00:13:32] The most sociologically stunning chapter. When you see these names again, I encourage you spend some time reading these names, figuring out who gathered together when they worshiped, it blows your mind. When you go, what kind of a church was that? We see the rich and the poor, the low status and the high status, the full-time church workers and the public officials were all part
[00:13:59] of the [00:14:00] early church gathering together. And you might wonder what could bring people together like this. What on earth could include a group of people this, and I think the answer is that's what happens when the church gathers to worship? When, the church gathers to worship to, to, to direct their attention to the person of Jesus.
[00:14:22] This is what happens. When worship is done, right. But it's not worship the way that we often think about it. See, it's not about how many people can we get together. It's not about what are the songs that we're singing. It's not about how loud can we sing it. It's not about how well can we perform that. Because none of those criteria would have brought these kinds of people together.
[00:14:49] See something bigger was happening as they gathered together, something unusual, something strange to the way the world works was happening [00:15:00] as the early church gathered. And one of the lessons I think you and I should take from this today, and this might even sound a little bit weird to our ears, but music without justice is not
[00:15:13] worship. This is a theme we see all throughout scriptures read the book of Amos. Amos is all about this, right? But music without justice is not worship. You may go on justice. What is justice have to do with gathering together in worship? It has everything to do. And you see this throughout the Bible and the book of Proverbs chapter 14, verse 31 says it like this.
[00:15:40] If you oppress poor people, you insult the God who made them. But kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship. We may go, wait, what kindness shown to the poor is worship? We need to re reframe what worship [00:16:00] looks like. What does it mean when we gather together? It's not just what kind of a song are we going to be singing?
[00:16:05] It's so much more than that. And one of the things that I would encourage us today, and one of the reasons I'm so passionate about why it matters that we worship together. We gather together as I believe that worshiping together brings out the best of us. Worshiping together, brings out the best of us.
[00:16:27] It, it brings together a unique gathering of people and it aims us at something beyond ourselves. It aims all of us together to the person of Jesus. And when you are a part of that, when you get to be a part of something like that, it changes you. When you are gathered together with people like that. And this same opportunity that the church, the early church experience that we get a glimpse of in Romans 16, the same opportunity is available to us today to create a unique gathering of people that is [00:17:00] directed at Jesus.
[00:17:01] That same opportunity is, is here for us, especially during an election when there's divisions and there's disagreements. And there's this tendency to pull away from one another. This is when the church can uniquely gather together, direct our attention to Jesus and figure out what does it mean for us to create this kind of a community?
[00:17:23] And if you are part of this, it will change you. This is why I believe in gathering together, because when you're a part of something like that, when you're a part of something that is so directed, so focused, it changes you. Now part of why I know this is in a practical sense this is what it means to be a fan of something, right.
[00:17:43] As you can say, worship is being a fan of Jesus. It is, it is choosing to celebrate to cheer on what Jesus is doing and what Jesus cares about. Now I'm a fan of, of lots of things. Not like I am of Jesus, but there are other things that I cheer on. And if [00:18:00] you know me, you know, I'm a huge New York Yankees fan and the Yankees are known for having diehard fans.
[00:18:07] And again, you may either hate them for this, or you love them for this. Like, wow. One of the things that are fascinating about the Yankees is there is a section at Yankee stadium that is known for the most diehard fans in the entire stadium they're called the Bleacher Creatures and the Bleacher Creatures are one section that they sit together and right field.
[00:18:29] And they have chants that they do that are unique to them. And they cheer on the Yankees and they cheer against whoever the Yankees are playing. One of the things that the Bleacher Creatures do is they do something called roll call, where they chant the names of every fielder. At the beginning of a game, they begin going down the line chanting and they do this until the player acknowledges them.
[00:18:53] So here's a photo. This is Aaron Judge, the right fielder. And he is acknowledging he's turning around, [00:19:00] giving a little hat tip, yeah, I see you guys. I hear you. These are the Bleacher Creatures chanting his name. He turns around and says, yep. Got it. Thanks. That's how much these fans are a part of the game.
[00:19:14] They are are so intense when it comes to how they cheer that in the year 2000, they had to ban alcohol from the Bleacher Creatures. I mean, if I find this just fascinating, it just got too rowdy. They were too into it is that, you know what, Hey, you guys are great, but like, man, alcohol mixed with that, that's just not good.
[00:19:35] And, and yet that didn't last long in 2009 that got alcohol back into the section. But you can just imagine how passionate these fans are. There's been books written about them. There's a book called Bleeding Pinstripes that is all about telling the story of the Bleacher Creatures, this unique section of fans that cheers on the Yankees.
[00:19:59] ABC [00:20:00] World News Tonight, did a segment on them and they use this phrase that called them the most loyal fans any team could want. Now, I've never had the chance to sit with the Bleacher Creatures. I would love it to love to experience a game like that. But what happens when you put yourself in a setting like that?
[00:20:22] The part of the reason why I think so many of us, we struggle when it comes to, how do I live out my faith? Is we are de-personalizing and we are pulling ourselves away from the community going. I'm just going to be really good at this myself. And it gets so much harder to do when we're not around others who are going in the same direction, who are worshiping the same
[00:20:43] god that we're worshiping. There is something about being in a setting, being with other people that, that causes you to behave in ways you wouldn't do otherwise. Not too long ago, our family was eating at Texas Roadhouse. Love, Texas Roadhouse. We're big fan of it. [00:21:00] And as we were eating there, other server came over and my wife Michelle was explaining to the server that both Michelle and I used to be servers at Texas Roadhouse, way back when.
[00:21:10] And so she was explaining this, server's like, Oh, that's so cool that you guys used to do that. And you know, we're there with our whole kids. And Michelle says, yeah, Jeremy used to you, the birthday chant. If you know, Texas sorta has a very unique birthday chant where they get someone up on a saddle, there's like this,
[00:21:26] this unique script that you do when you're at Texas Roadhouse. And, and so Michelle's explained to the server. Yeah. Jeremy used to do that cause he's got a loud voice. Thank you. And so he would do that and other servers would, wouldn't want to do it. So they'd have him do that. Well, as she's saying this, our server looks at us.
[00:21:41] I kid you not and goes, I've got a birthday at the table over there and I hate doing the chant. Would you do it for me? Now I'm an introvert. Okay. Uh, I very quickly had an answer for that. I'm like, no, uh, I'm retired. I don't do you do that anymore? That is not my thing. Nor do I want [00:22:00] to be the center of attention at a restaurant I'm having dinner at?
[00:22:03] No, thank you. Except my kids turned on me and they're like, dad, you got it. Dad, this would be amazing. I mean, all my kids immediately, their eyes are giving me like, dad, this would be so cool. If you, the birthday chant, you know, my wife Michelle is looking at me. She's like, it would be,kinda cool. I'm like guys, this would be so out of my element, like this is not me.
[00:22:26] I haven't done this in forever. Like I don't work here anymore. I mean, this is not my thing. And then my 11 year old, our oldest looks at me and he goes, dad, This would be a great sermon illustration. This is what happened next.
[00:22:41] I [00:23:00] don't know what caused me to do that other than when you're in a setting like that. And when you're with people like that, all of a sudden you start having a courage, you start opening yourselves up to new possibilities. You know, as I was done doing the chant. Another server walked over to me and they're all kind of confused.
[00:23:44] Why is this guy who doesn't work here doing this champ? And she came over to me and she goes, I kid you not, you do that better than we do it. I'm like, thank you. You know? And so I go back and we sat down at table and our servers so great. She was like, how long ago did you work here? And I quickly [00:24:00] did the math and I'm like 18 years ago.
[00:24:02] And she was like 18 years ago. How do you still remember that? Cause there's something about when you're just in the moment when you're around people that you're, you're shaped differently. You're, you're in a different frame of mind. So here's my question for us today. How should we be affected when we gather to worship?
[00:24:21] How should this kind of a community, Romans 16 kind of community shape us. As we gather uniquely together to direct our focus and our attention on the person of Jesus. Well, I want to leave you with a great analogy that I find personally, very helpful. The author, Carolyn Jane Bowler gives one of her favorite metaphors of God as "God,
[00:24:45] the jazz band leader". Now, I don't know if you know much about music, but I love this analogy as well. "God, the jazz band leader", when I was in junior high, I played in the regular band and then I played in the jazz band as well, and I played tenor [00:25:00] saxophone in the jazz band. And I learned about what jazz is.
[00:25:04] It doesn't mean that there's nothing going on, you know, like everyone does what they want. You have a song, you're all playing together. But in the jazz band, our conductor would look at us and he'd point to you. And that meant stand up and solo. And when you were going to set up and solo, you were not playing any notes in front of you, you just kind of played whatever you want.
[00:25:22] And so the rest of the band is playing, you know, kind of a basic idea, but you're soloing in the midst of that. It's a very different image than a conductor of a traditional orchestra. It's just saying, play the notes, the exact notes that you have. I love this image of God as the jazz band director, the jazz band leader, and God looks at us and he's like, no, no, we're all going to play this together, but, but you have a part to play and he may go, yeah, I don't feel comfortable doing that.
[00:25:50] I'm not gonna, I'm not going to solo. And you're thinking I'm not going to do a birthday chat in front of people 18 years after I, you know, stopped working there. And by the way, I [00:26:00] only worked there for three months, right? I mean, this is, what's crazy about this kind of stuff, but God invites us into this community.
[00:26:06] It can be that doesn't look like any other community. And he says, Hey, there's some things that we're gonna develop themes of like justice and love and reconciliation and healing. And these are the themes that this music is going to hit on, but I'm going to invite you to come on. You gotta play your part.
[00:26:20] Come on you. It's your turn. You, you solo stand up, come on. You're going to play something. You might be a little fearful at first and I'd be like, I'm not sure how to do this, but there's something about it. Right? You get caught up in the music and all of a sudden you you're contributing. You're a part and God is leading this incredible song together.
[00:26:40] And so church, I want to ask you, are you experiencing the music? Are you experiencing this? Now, if you're physically in this state with us? What does it look like for you to gather in a season like this? I hope you feel comfortable physically joining us, but if not, how do you figure out a way to, to intentionally navigate that, to figure out what [00:27:00] does this look like?
[00:27:00] How can I play my part? How can I be a part of this? And if you're out of state and you're, you're joining us so glad that you're a part of this as well. What does it look like for you to, to not be anonymous in this community? What was it like for you to be a part of this, to play your role in what is happening, where you're not just watching from afar, but you're experiencing something as well.
[00:27:24] So here's a question I want to leave all of us with. How are we participating and that unique gathering of people focused on Jesus, because that's what happens when we gather together and worship. It's not just a bunch of great songs, not just a bunch of loud singing. It is a unique gathering of people.
[00:27:42] How do we doing that? How are we participating in that? Because worshiping together brings out the best of us. Craig Boyd said this. It's impossible to remain surrendered to God moment by moment and remain apathetic about [00:28:00] things God is passionate about. As his life is poured into us. It can't help, but begin to be expressed through us.
[00:28:10] I love that as we gather together, as the life of Jesus poured into us, we get to express it back. We are to encourage one other challenge, one another. And all of a sudden you have guys like Erastus and Gaius sitting next to Tertius and Quartus people that don't fit together the way the world works. But when we gather to worship, it's not just about the songs we're singing.
[00:28:36] It's about justice. It's about a new communities about these themes that God wants to be developed. And we gathered together intentionally, we play our part. We do the solo when it's our turn, and we play along to the song that God is inviting us to play with. How are you experiencing the music like that?
[00:28:56] Because if you do it from afar, I'm just going to watch. And I don't really want to be a part of [00:29:00] that. You're going to miss how worshiping together brings out the best of us. Let's pray together. Jesus. We invite you to lead us into the jazz, lead us in the song as we play these themes together. As we learn to see what your heart beats for, what you're passionate about.
[00:29:23] But we also learn, we're not just playing some notes on a paper. You're inviting us into this. You're inviting us to get up and play our part. To see how we can contribute to what you were doing to this beautiful melody that is being played around us. And so God may, our worship never be about the songs that we sing and how many people we can gather.
[00:29:44] May it always be about the kind of community that is being created here. The kind of gathering that is happenning may we look like Romans 16 as we look around us and realizing that there's something is happening here that is profound and is [00:30:00] supernatural and does not happen outside of this church gathering. And may we be the ones that experience justice and love and redemption as we gather together.
[00:30:11] And may it bring out the best of us as we learn to gather around those around us. And we aim our eyes to you. We pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.