HOW TO MEETPrint This Page.
There are several kinds of meetings, but we have to pay attention to two things with every meeting:
(1) Come early. Those who live upstairs in the meeting hall should not wait until the first hymn is sung downstairs before they come down for the meeting. Being late for a meeting is a very unkind thing because it means that others have to wait for you. First Corinthians 11:33 says, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” Not many people practice this verse. Unfortunately, many do not come and wait for others; instead, they want the other brothers to wait for them. Sometimes we wait from 9:30 to 10:00, and some brothers still have not come. I will say a word especially to the brothers living in Wen-teh Lane. Those who live nearest to the meeting place are often the latest to arrive. Every one of us should try our best to be here early, so that others will not have to wait.
There are negative effects in coming late to the meetings. First, it causes a meeting to start late and end late. The sisters who bear the responsibility for their household are late in returning home, and this delays their cooking or care for their children. Second, during the bread-breaking meeting, another brother may have called a hymn already. Because you are late, you may come in and call the same hymn again, bringing in repetition. Third, sometimes the meeting begins before you arrive. When you come in late, you start the meeting all over again. This can happen four or five times in a meeting, with four or five different beginnings. Although we can learn to remember the Lord by following the leading of the Spirit and start the meeting for the remembrance of the Lord in different ways, sometimes with His suffering, sometimes with the forgiveness of sins, and sometimes with the Lord’s glory, a person who is late to the meeting will not know how the meeting has begun, and his prayer and hymn selection will not be in line with the meeting. Therefore, it is better to come earlier and wait for a while in the meeting place. This is always better than coming late.
(2) Stand up to speak. For the bread-breaking meeting and other general meetings, it is better for the brothers to stand up to speak. According to Chinese custom, it is impolite for one to speak while sitting down. Moreover, one who speaks while sitting down cannot be loud, and it is difficult for others to hear him. In addition, his voice can easily conflict with the voices of other brothers. If you are sitting down with your head bowed and call a hymn, you cannot see if another brother has stood up to pray or call a hymn at the same time. At any rate, our ears are not as sharp as our eyes. If you stand up first, you can avoid the confusion of two people opening their mouths simultaneously. If two people open their mouths simultaneously, it is because both of them have not stood up before they opened their mouths. Therefore, we would like the brothers to remember that whenever they want to say something, whether it is praying or calling a hymn, they should first look with their eyes to see if anyone else has stood up before them. If no one has stood up, then it is all right for them to speak. Although these are small points, they are nevertheless things that the brothers should pay attention to.
THE BREAD-BREAKING MEETING
The first point we should emphasize is that we are at the bread-breaking meeting to remember the Lord. Therefore, the Lord should be the center. It is unsuitable to offer prayers and supplications at the bread-breaking meeting. Of course, we can thank and praise the Lord through our prayers, but we should not remember our own needs during the bread-breaking meeting. The meeting on the Lord’s Day evening is purely for thanksgiving and praise.
According to the light of the Bible, there should be two sections to the bread-breaking meeting. Before the breaking of bread, we have the Lord Jesus before us; after the breaking of bread, we have the Father before us. Before the breaking of bread, the Lord leads us to remember Himself. Therefore, all thanksgiving and praise should have the Lord as the center; everything should be centered upon the Lord. Before the breaking of bread, we see the Lord Jesus as the only begotten Son; He is the only Son. After the breaking of bread, we see the Lord Jesus as the firstborn Son; we have a share in the Son of God and have become God’s many sons. Before the breaking of bread, the Lord Jesus is one grain of wheat; after the breaking of bread, He is the grain that has fallen to the ground and died and brought forth many grains. By discerning the Body of Christ, we see the Lord as the firstborn Son, as depicted in Hebrews 2. He is leading many sons into glory, and in the assembly He is leading them to sing praises to the Father. This is what is described in Hymn No. 183 in our Little Flock Hymnal. But this should not be legal; it does not mean that every time we meet we should act this way. If we are willing to learn and follow the Lord’s leading, we will be very clear that this kind of spiritual guidance always leads us step by step, onward to the Father. The Lord Jesus first led the disciples to eat the Feast of the Passover. Then they sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives. The Songs of Ascents recorded in the Psalms (see the headings of some psalms) were songs the Israelites sang at the Feast of the Passover after they ate the Passover dinner. They sang these songs while they were ascending the stairs. Therefore, after we partake of the Lord’s body, we should ascend to the mountain to praise God. We should allow the Lord to lead us and draw us to the Father. All of our hymns are hymns of ascent. Our hymns should climb higher and higher after the breaking of bread. This is not just the teaching of the book of Hebrews. The Lord’s word, the teaching of the Psalms, and our experience all testify to this. After our salvation, we always thank the Lord first, then praise Him, and then worship God.
The second point of emphasis is on learning to follow whatever has begun in the bread-breaking meeting. We are remembering the Lord, but there are many different beginnings for this kind of meeting. Some beginnings emphasize the Lord’s sufferings, others emphasize the Lord’s glory, and still others emphasize what the Lord has passed through. We have to pay attention to the way a meeting begins and follow the same line. No hymn or prayer should come up with another line of emphasis, but they should strengthen and advance the existing line until the end. There should not be three or four beginnings. Furthermore, we should never seek for an opportunity to squeeze into the bread-breaking meeting the interesting passages that we have come across during our morning Bible study time or the hymns that we like to sing at other times. These are things that are related to us personally and should not be things that we do as brothers. We are not in the meeting to take care of our personal relationship with the Lord but of the going on of the meeting in oneness. This is a precious thing. Therefore, the bread-breaking meeting tells us who the good brothers are. Do you care only for your own things, or do you care for the move of the meeting? Sometimes a meeting is about to end, and the thanksgivings and praises are adequate, but a brother suddenly stands up to pray or call another hymn. This becomes redundant.
In a meeting, you should cease from your personal activity and follow the move of the Body. If you are in a room by yourself, you can sing or pray at will. But in a meeting, you are not the only one who is present. Therefore, please do not bring feelings that are peculiarly your own into the meeting. Of course, all our thanksgivings and praises are personal; if they are not personal, they are not real and are a speaking before others only. However, even though the meetings are very personal, we should care for the feeling of the whole Body as well. This is why we have to follow a line of emphasis.
The same is true with our preaching at the bread-breaking meeting; we should have the Lord as the center. It is all right for a brother to read a passage of Scripture which leads others to the Lord or to remember the Lord. But there is no need to read other unrelated passages of Scripture. There is no meeting that is as important as the bread-breaking meeting. When we hear a message, we are merely listening to others speak about the Lord, and the goal is for our own benefit. But the bread-breaking meeting is the time when we meet the Lord and remember Him; it is a time reserved for the Lord Himself.