In a conversation today about why people come to worship, one man made this observation: "It's like music. I can buy the CD and listen to it at home, but when I really want to EXPERIENCE the music, I spend the extra money and go to the concert."
Yes, we can be "religious" or "spiritual" all by ourselves, in our own little worlds. We can read the Bible and pray every day (I commend these practices to you!). But when we want to EXPERIENCE God, we join together in worship, at worship. God's word can transform us in a silent, private reading, of course; but the experience of communal worship cannnot be duplicated when one is alone.
In my home I have a small "altar" for my devotional time. On it are candles, pictures, a goddess rosary, a Muslim prayer rug, a carving of a woman dancing in prayer--mostly gifts from others. A Bible, a hymnal, and my laptop labyrinth are nearby. Many of these elements are present in the congregation's worship space as well, but when I'm at home, there is no church, no gathering of "2 or 3 or more", no one else's voice raised with mine. It's a CD, not a concert; vital to my life with God, but not the same experience.
When I gather with others in worship, I am reminded of the joys and hurts beyond my own. I know parts of the stories that are sitting in the chairs around me, other prayer concerns to lift to God, not just my own. I see how I walk beside, away from, and toward others at various times on this journey of life. I see God's vision for us as we gather around the Table--I would never invite this particular configuration of people to dinner, yet here we are, sharing a meal for life together.
I know 9:30 is early, especially when Saturday night actually ended sometime Sunday morning. But I can't NOT go to worship; it's who I am. A worship nerd as I've always been, yet I believe my life is richer for the rhythm worship provides. And so, like Philip to Nathanael, we say, "Come and see". Come and experience, come and live.