HAVING A GOOD START TO THE MEETING
Basketball players realize that in order to play a good game, they must have a good start. If they start the game in the wrong way, they will lose. We all have to learn how to start the Lord’s table meeting. It is not easy to call the first hymn. To begin with the hymn “Down from His Glory,” for example, may start the meeting with a low atmosphere, and once the meeting is “buried” by the first hymn, it is hard to resurrect it.
At least a few minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting, the brothers should start to pray rather than announce a hymn. This will immediately bring the meeting into the right feeling. However, many keep the regulation and wait until the scheduled time to begin the meeting. Someone should offer a praise to the Lord, and then some others should follow. We need not start the meeting with a hymn, according to a regulation; rather, we should start it in a living way. That will change the whole atmosphere. It is not easy to choose a hymn to begin the meeting. Instead, we should simply learn to have some prayer.
It is easy to start a message meeting by announcing a hymn, but it is hard to start the Lord’s table meeting with a hymn. It is difficult to say why this is so, but we know this from experience. Therefore, we must learn to start the table meeting by prayer, unless someone has the assurance that a certain hymn is right to start the meeting. Without the assurance, however, we should not do this. Only the proper hymn can prepare the way for a proper meeting, so unless we are very clear and the meeting is already very open and uplifted, it is better not to choose a hymn at first.
If the meeting starts in a wrong way, there is no need to adjust or correct directly. Rather, we should try the best to have another start. We may have the sense that the first hymn chosen is wrong, but we may not do anything to help the beginning of the meeting. That is simply a further mistake. After a wrong start, we have to do something right away to have the right start. This will save the meeting. If we let it go, the meeting will “float” without the proper direction.
Sometimes also we do not sense the right time to pass the bread and the cup. To pass the bread and the cup requires the right atmosphere. Otherwise, it is merely a kind of procedure or regulation. A meeting for the Lord’s table that is out of the proper order is very poor. In such a case, some may still have the boldness to express something, but they may not have the flow or direction.
USING HYMNS THAT HAVE THE PROPER FEELING
During the worship of the Father, we should not sing hymns that have differing feelings. Certain hymns may even be similar, but this does not mean they match each other. One hymn may be on the greatness of God, while another is on the newness of the Father. One may be compared to the winter, another may be like the summer, and others like the spring and the fall. To sing of all “four seasons” is not to have the proper direction. We should know where the flow is going and what direction of the compass to “sail our boat.”
First Corinthians 11:26 says, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the Lord’s death until He comes.” In this short verse there are three points: to eat and to drink; to declare, display, and proclaim the death of Christ; and to look forward to His coming back. At the Lord’s table, therefore, we always eat and drink the Lord to enjoy Him, and we display the death of Christ. Moreover, we have the sense in the spirit that as the table meeting ends, we are looking forward to His coming back. If we do have this sense, then it helps to sing some hymns about the Lord’s second coming, the hope of glory. However, it is possible to call a hymn on the Lord’s coming without the proper sense. This is why we stress that we need to follow the flow. To call a hymn on the Lord’s coming without the flow is merely a legality; it is like serving a cold dish of food.
CARING FIRST FOR THE INNER SENSE
AND THEN FOR OUR KNOWLEDGE
Certain hymns are good to use near the beginning of the meeting because they contain no particular subject. After singing such a hymn, the right thing to do is to have some prayers in order to seek for the Lord’s guidance. We may not be assured about the direction of the meeting, so we simply come to the Lord to seek and feel for the direction. In a certain prayer, we may all sense the flow and know that this is the point we should hit in that meeting. At this point, to call the wrong hymn will bring down and disturb the meeting, and the saints will not know which direction to go. We need to learn these principles.
Certain ones may call a hymn that is not fitting because they neglect the sense, the feeling, within. We all must learn that in our spiritual coordination, knowledge is not the first thing we need. The first thing we need is our sense and feeling. We have to follow the flow, the atmosphere, of the meeting by our sense, not by our knowledge. Then after we sense something, we can exercise our knowledge to either express a prayer or choose a hymn to fit what we sense.
Sometimes the sense of the spirit in the meeting is very general, and there may be no definite sense from the very beginning of the meeting to the end. At that time, we should not categorize the exact feeling in the meeting. We should simply use the hymns and even pray in a general way. That will express what is in the spirit of all the saints. When we express a general feeling, all the spirits of the saints will say Amen. We may, for example, sing hymns concerning the sweetness of the Lord in a general way. There is no need to say that the Lord is the reality of the offerings or that He is food to us. We can simply enjoy the sweetness and freshness of the Lord in a general way. To emphasize that the Lord is the offerings may be too strong and definite at that time. At such a time, to sing a hymn with a definite subject is too much, and to repeat it is worse. To call such a hymn is due to functioning according to knowledge without the exercise of the inner sense.
I say again that in order to follow the flow in the meeting, the first matter is not to exercise our knowledge but to exercise the spirit. We may use the temperature of the air to illustrate the exercise of the sense followed by the exercise of knowledge. To feel that it is hot is not a matter of knowledge. It is simply something we feel. Even a little baby who does not know the word hot will react if he feels too hot. This is a matter of feeling, of sense. After we have the sense, however, we need a certain kind of knowledge to know what to do. After we sense the heat, we have to exercise our knowledge to know the exact temperature and to decide whether to wear spring, fall, or summer clothing. This is the proper use of knowledge. First we exercise our sense, and then we exercise our knowledge to do something that fits the sense. This is the right way to follow the flow in the meeting.
(The Ground of the Church and the Meetings of the Church, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)