Sunday is one of the most special days for many Christians all over the world. We commemorate anew that the Lord Jesus Christ overcame and defeated the power of Hades and conquered the power of death by rising from dead. In this day the entire human race was given great hope and possibility of true immortality and life of eternity; indeed, Sunday is a special day.
Since the infancy of the church, early Christians held this day as a very sacred and unique day of the week. It was the day that all the followers of Christ (the church) would gather together in their homes to be in fellowship with God the father and the son through the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was also the day for the saints to be in communion with one another.
In the early church, Sunday was not the day for powerful sermons from charismatic individuals; rather, it was the day for the powerful teacher, the Holy Spirit, to minister to the church through the ordinary saints. It was not the day for special entertainment and show, rather it was the day of true worshiping of God in truth and spirit. The saints would gather together in humility and sincerity to strengthen one another through interactive, Spirit-led fellowship. It was a special day for remembrance as the Lord Jesus promised his disciples,
” These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” ( John 14:25-26)
According to apostle Paul, the church service was all about edification and listening to the Holy Spirit of God, the sharing of the spiritual gifts imparted to the saints by God. In his epistle to the saints of Corinth, he admonished them saying,
” What is the outcome then, brethren ? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by the two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the under pass judgement. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is a not God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. ( 1 Corinthians 14)
In all of our local Sunday fellowships here in East Africa, with humility and sincerity we strive to adhere to and imitate the ancient practice of church service. We honor those who came before us, we learn from those that taught us the way of church because they also were taught by the Lord himself through the Holy Spirit.
In our Sunday fellowships, baptized men, both old and young who are filled with the Spirit, are allowed to share and contribute their spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying the church. While women are restricted from teaching men in the church, they are allowed to sing psalms and hymn to the Lord and share their testimonies with the church, just as it was instructed by the great founder of the churches:
“ Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive as the law also says.” ( 1 Corinthians 14)
For the sake of our conscience and obedience to God, we encourage our women to be silent and submissive during Sunday service and also to cover their heads as their symbol of God’s authority over their heads, according to the scriptures:
” But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” ( 1Corinthians 14).
In these fellowships saints have struggles, challenges and difficulties which need to be addressed. Here the saints are given a chance to share their struggles and request for prayers. The elders of the church will lay hands on them and pray for them.
” Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14)
The deacons of the churches collect contributions from the saints which will help to meet the needs of the churches, and the poor and needy in our midst. This practice helps to cultivate the virtue and spirit of giving and sharing among the saints.
These is how the ancient church did their Sunday services, practices which we hope to exemplify in our churches here in East Africa.