People will often give two reasons for going to church.  Both are only half-right, which makes both of them half-wrong.

One answer is that God has commanded us to, in the Scriptures.  We are commanded to remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy, and that means going to worship (Exodus 20:8-11).  So worship is a Law, and Christians are suppose to obey the Law, right?

Another is that God wants our praise and worship.  We come together during service to sing, clap (maybe), pray, give offerings, and generally make God happy by offering him our hearts.  God wants us to do that too, right?

Neither is the real reason Christians gather together on Sunday morning, or Thursday evening, Wednesday morning, or whenever they can.  We come together to receive.  We come together to take from God’s hand, primarily, not give to him out of ours.  After all, if God is all-powerful and all-knowing, what exactly can you give him that he couldn’t take or doesn’t have (Psalm 24)?

What do we receive?  We receive the gifts that Jesus won for us through his life, crucifixion, and resurrection.  We receive forgiveness for our sins through the words of the pastor (John 20:21-23).  We receive instruction from his Word, and the promises that Word contains.  Adults and children are baptized, once for life, and sealed with the Spirit of life (Acts 2:38-39).  And those who are ready receive Christ’s body and blood as his further promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  The writer of Hebrews encourages us to gather together, not just out of duty, but as children gather around the tree on Christmas morning (Hebrews 10:19-25).

One of our hymn writers explained it this way.

The gifts Christ freely gives He gives to you and me
To be His Church, His Bride, His chosen, saved and free!
Saints blest with these rich gifts are children who proclaim
That they were won by Christ and cling to His strong name.

(“The Gifts Christ Freely Gives,” Lutheran Service Book 602).

Why do we worship?  To receive Christ’s gifts, freely given, for the forgiveness of our sins.  So come: receive the gifts with us!