A prayer for God to gather us into community for worship. The first two stanzas ask God to help us overcome those things that separate us (from God and from each other): our age, our health, our pride or fear or pasts. The third describes the sacramental activity in worship by which God helps us to fashion holy lives and true hearts. In the fourth stanza we plead to be gathered as God’s own – not into a place, but into a people, animated by God’s Spirit. Because God is never explicitly named in the song, speak a fitting prayer before or after singing it, identifying who it is that gathers us in, and who lives as the “fire of love in our flesh and our bone.”
Sing! A New Creation
Our coming together is not first of all an action of our own initiative, but is of God’s initiative. He does the gathering. The Confessions are careful to use terminology that identifies God’s gathering action. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 54 says, “The Son of God through his Spirit and Word…gathers...” Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 30 testifies “The Spirit gathers people…into the unity of the body of Christ.” The Belhar Confession, Section 1 refers to the Trinity. “…The triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit.”
God calls his children from many sources, languages, nations, and from a variety of social standings and personal needs. The Confessions are very clear on this. Belgic Confession teaches in Article 27, “This holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people.” Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 30 reminds us, “The Spirit gathers people from every tongue, tribe and nation...” and in paragraph 34 teaches that “all are welcome…the homeless…the broken…the sinner…the despised…the least…and the last…”
Stanza 3 of “Gather Us In” uses multiple references to the Lord’s Supper, such as “the bread of new birth,” “the wine of compassion,” “the bread that is you,” and the expectation to be nourished well. All of these references clearly reflect the teaching of Belgic Confession, Article 35 as means of sustaining the spiritual and heavenly new life we have within us through our second birth.