Stepping Stones to Glory #3 by Tim Wehse
In his book, The Communion of Saints, Philip Ryken writes:
Justin Martyr (c.100-165 A.D.) wrote the following:
One the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or in the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites us to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons. Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need. We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, one which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on the same day.
I was struck by the continuity of the Christian Church the moment I read that description. Beloved—if you are a Christian—you are part of something truly historical. Our gathering together as the body of Christ is not our invention. Our parents and grandparents didn’t make it up either. We can trace Sunday worship services all the way back to the first century. Meditate upon that today, and rejoice if you are part of the Church. Then, “imitate noble things.” In other words, receive the Word of God and do what it says (Js. 1:21-22). Justin Martyr stated the believers in the early Church were regularly challenged to love God and live for God. And we know from history that they were not ashamed to do so! Let’s not be ashamed today!