The following post comes from Seth Hix, minister of music at Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., and was adapted from a morning devotion at the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship/ CBF Current Retreat which took place last month.
It’s Sunday morning once again. As you roll over in bed or hear the alarm clock or hear the kids screaming in the other room, you must decide … do I get up or do I hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep? After all, it was a long and stressful week at work, and the SEC game of the week (Roll Tide!) kept me up until well after midnight.
Or maybe I could quietly get up and surprise my family with a pancake breakfast? It’s been a long time since we have had a lazy Sunday morning spending quality time with my wife and kids.
Is it really worth my time and effort to wake the kids, get them dressed (with matching socks), fed and out the door to make it to early worship or Sunday School on time .. or at least respectably late?!
These are questions that we face 52 times a year, every Sunday morning. So, why do we come to worship week after week? Why do we get up on a morning when we could certainly use an extra hour of sleep? Is it really wrong to want to spend a few precious hours alone with our family after a hectic week?
Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. Maybe we should be asking what actually happens when we worship? Do we simply gather to passively listen to a compelling sermon or inspiring music? Are we here just to give our tithes and offerings? Or do we come to fellowship with our friends? Yes, yes and yes.
But, are we always inspired by the sermon? And do we always like the songs that crazy music minister chooses? Can we always give with a joyful heart? Do we always get along with our fellow worshipers? No, No, No and No.
We come because worship is about God. It is not about us. We worship because God tells us to. And we worship because we find strength in seeing others (young and old) who profess Christ as Lord. We come each week because when we leave our house early on Sunday morning, we say to the world (and God) that He is most important in our lives and we want to start a new weekly cycle by giving Him the first fruits of our time and energy. We worship because we want to love God with everything that we have and with everything that we are, and we want to learn to love others in exactly the same way.
Weekly corporate worship is important. But, if you haven’t noticed, it is becoming less and less sacred in our world, even within the Church.
In a technology-driven, world where we are instantly connected, it seems we have developed extremely short memories. Whether its the hourly forecast, celebrity news or our Twitter feed, we are always looking for the most up-to-date information. I admit that I get a little uncomfortable when I have to wait 5-6 seconds for a web-page to open! We have trouble remembering life before the iphone or text messaging! We live in a instant gratification world no now.
Unfortunately the “now” mentality has crept into our sanctuaries and worship centers. Too often we are content to worship only the God of now or the God of today. We are only have time for the God who is here to meet our immediate needs and answer us when we call.
But, the reality is that we do not only worship the God of now. Every Sunday we gather in the presence of the God of Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Joshua. We worship the God of David and Solomon, Esther and Job. And we worship the God who holds in His hand the twists and turns of an unknown tomorrow. If we gather in historic pews or stadium seating, the God who meets with us can never be fully known in one worship service or sermon series. A worship encounter with the everlasting God should challenge us to think beyond ourselves. We should never allow our personal preferences and narrow perspectives to limit our worship experiences.
Every Sunday I am comforted in worship by the God of yesterday, today and forever, because I realize that we live in a complicated world where our humanity clashes with our spirituality every single day. And as we often find ourselves navigating the gray areas of our human understanding, right and wrong do not always seem to be mutually exclusive. So, I’m okay if I don’t fully understand every element of worship each week … Because I serve a God who cannot be fully known.
The purpose of worship is to usher Christians into the presence of the God who can help us face the unimaginable challenges of life. The God of “now” seems to adequately meet our needs in ordinary times, but what happens when the test results don’t come back the way we thought … or when the cancer returns … or when the pregnancy goes wrong … or when we find ourselves in an unthinkable situation that simply does not have a good option?
These are the days when I need to worship the God of Psalm 90, who has been our dwelling place throughout all generations. I need to worship the Creator God, who is everlasting to everlasting. I need to worship the God who has a long history with His people so that I can find my story within their story. It’s these times when I revel in those holy moments, when I can stand among the faithful and proudly sing … Under the shadow of Thy throne, Thy saints have dwelt secure, Sufficient is Thine arm alone and our defense is sure.
May we never take for granted the privilege of corporate worship or the importance of gathering with a community of faith. Worship is a weekly discipline. It is a life-long commitment. Worship is an investment in the Kingdom and should link us to past generations of Christians who have blazed a trail of faith before us. Their winding path is also our path. May we take the baton and run as long as we can … together.
See you Sunday!