Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Words and Music by Adrianus Valerius, 1597
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37 – 39
Among my most cherished memories from growing up are family gatherings. Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, a wedding or whatever, there are few times in my life that stand-up in comparison.
Now I don’t come from the largest family I know, but on the other hand, I certainly don’t come from a small one either. I remember getting together at my Grandparents house for Thanksgiving. We would have two full size tables set, when it came time to eat we would gather around, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and sometimes second and third cousins, great aunts, great uncles, even great grandparents. Yes, we were a very close family and still are. To this day, my closest and dearest friends are family.
The added gift to our family is that we were believers. As a result the ties that bound us together went beyond blood, and into our very spirit. As we would gather around the table, my grandfather would lead us in prayer. While he was a simple man, his prayers stand out as some of the most heartfelt I have ever heard. Genuine, moving and from the heart.
So he would pray thanking God for our being together. Thanking Him for the blessings he had bestowed on us. And praying that God would continue to bless us. This is the theme found in Adrianus Valerius’s hymn/prayer, “We Gather Together.”
The first line we see is, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.” Valerius reminds us that we have been called to gather together, for this is where we will see the power of God manifested. Jesus told us in Matthew 20:18 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” In addition, the writer of Hebrews instructs us in 10:25 to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” Gathering together is foundational to what it means to be a believer.
But as we come together, we each come from our own unique struggles. This prayer now turns to remind us that God will not leave us. It reads, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.” Alone, we begin to feel worn down with attacks that may come, but as we gather together we are refreshed and reminded that God is there with us. We can therefore cease from distressing for He is, “Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining.”
But not only is God with us, in Him we can know victory. Valerius calls Him, “Thou Leader Triumphant.” Our “Leader Triumphant” then shares that victory with us so that we are, as Paul says, “More than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)
God has called us together to worship Him, to refresh our souls and to build up one another. Let us not forsake coming together, rather may we join our hearts as one, praying for His blessings, thanking Him that He will not leave us and declaring His praise to all who will hear. And so we pray, Lord “Thy name be ever praised.”
Read more about “We Gather Together.”