Building Identity, Unity, Enthusiasm and Support
Groups of all kinds value meeting together as a means of building identity, unity enthusiasm and support. Political groups meet together to increase campaign contributions and to motivate their members to get out the vote for their candidates. Fitness trainers form groups of those interested in building strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness. They know that success is often greater for those working together to achieve challenging goals. Stadiums, coliseums and arenas across the world are filled with thousands of sports fans eagerly cheering on their team to victory.
Meeting Together as Opportunity for Service
Of the great civic clubs, Rotary International, places a strong emphasis on regular attendance at weekly meetings. One of its central principles stresses meeting together as an opportunity for service.
Christians Meeting Together
From the earliest establishment of Christianity, Christians have regularly met together in groups large and small. They share the faith, worship, pray, educate and study, and serve those in need. Jesus is quoted in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” From large crowds at Christmas and Easter to the smallest of prayer groups, Christians feel this presence and power.
Christians Meeting Together and Connection with Music
From the happiness of weddings to the sadness of funerals and the communion felt in the sharing of the Lord’s Supper, Christians celebrate their faith and sense of connection to each other and to Christ. Music, unique and mystical in its power to connect, is usually a part of these gatherings.
Shall We Gather at the River
From ancient times, water has been a source of life and death. A typhoid epidemic, which killed hundreds of citizens of Brooklyn, New York, in 1864, sprang from contaminated water. Robert Lowry was inspired to write “Shall We Gather at the River,” as well as to compose the tune to which it is paired, “Hanson,” after Hanson Place Baptist Church, Brooklyn, where he served as pastor.
Meeting Together and Ultimate Reunion
Shall We Gather at the River affirms a faith in an ultimate gathering and reunion of all believers. It certainly references verses in the final chapter of the concluding book of the Bible, Revelation, chapter 22. “Then the angel showed me the river of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle street of the city. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift…The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.”