Why does the church, the christian church, worship the way it does?
Largely it has to do with presence. Not the kind with wrapping and bows, but rather of being or existence.
You’ve probably noticed before that different cultures have very differing ways of greeting one another. For us it might be a handshake or a hug, or in other cultures a little more intimate. Maybe they share cheeks with one another on either side. But no matter what that greeting is it means to extend a wish of well being.
Jesus gives well being to his church, to his family, with his presence by leaving it with them.
So this is what Jesus says just before he ascends into heaven.
Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. – Matthew 28:20
That’s Jesus promise, his greeting of well being, to his people, the church. And so it’s not strange at all that the church gives that greeting back and forth.
Pastor says among the people in a worship service “The Lord be with you.” It’s good for the Lord to be present with you because he is life from the dead for you congregation members, for you christians. And in response the gathered christians say “And also with you, pastor!” For you too are dead apart from the life that is in Jesus the Son.
What a gracious exchange that goes on, this presence, this well being, that is passed among the believers from pastor to congregation and from congregation back to pastor.
May the Lord be with us. For in him is life and salvation. Amen.