Sun., Dec. 9, 2018
Psalm 122:1- I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let’s go to the Lord’s house!”
In the movie The Rookie, Dennis Quaid plays Jim Morris. Based on a true story, Jim coached high school baseball. When his team makes the state high school playoffs, he fulfills a promise to the team and tries out for a major league baseball team. Never mind that Jim is in his 30’s and has a family. When he consistently throws the ball 98 mph at a try-out, he is signed to a minor league team.
It’s a tough summer for Morris. He’s traveling in a bus with a bunch of college kids, while his wife and family are home, barely paying their bills. He’s questioning why he’s pursuing this dream. After an opportunity to remember why, he walks into the locker room before a game and approaches another player, Brooks. Morris says to Brooks, “Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to play baseball.”
Today is Sunday. Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to worship God.
A little over a year ago, I stepped down from serving two churches as the pastor. After planning weekly worship for 18 years, Sunday mornings have been very different the last year. Yes, I have had the opportunity to fill the pulpit many times. Some Sundays, like today, I will provide music for a worship service. Whether I’m the pastor leading worship or the pianist sitting behind the piano, I look forward to Sunday because this is the day we get to worship God.
I’ve been asked whether Hubby Rick and I have found a church home. Quite honestly, we worship in a variety of churches. Most months, we worship at a different church every week of the month. This has been a big change for both of us. Our Sunday morning routine is very different than it was for the previous 17 years of our marriage. I don’t leave home before Rick. We go to worship together. Sometimes, we even get to sit next to each other for some or all of the worship service. Every Sunday, we get to worship God.
Believe it or not, worship is the single most popular act in the United States on a weekly basis. Even in a time of declining church attendance, more people will attend worship service today than will attend a professional football game. More people will take time to gather with other people of their particular religion than will go to a theater production.
I know, you may find this hard to believe. But it’s true.
In the many years I actively served faith communities and congregations, more than one person approached me and shared their reason why they did not attend worship on a regular basis. It was the only day of the week they could sleep in. They needed a break. They had gotten out of the habit of going to worship. They can’t find a worship service that “speaks” to them. They don’t want to be hypocritical and go to church when they aren’t sure what they believe. And the list goes on … and on … and on.
Here’s the deal. Worship is not something we do because we feel like it. There are many things we do, even if we don’t always feel like it. Do you only go to work when we feel like it? If most of us only exercised when we felt like it, there’s a whole bunch of people who would never exercise again.
Here’s the truth: feelings can be great liars. Feelings allow us to justify anything, if we allow it. If we only do things when we really feel like it, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that would never get done, including worship.
Too often, we talk ourselves in or out of something because we don’t feel it. We justify our actions by declaring that it would be inauthentic to do this task if our heart isn’t in it. Here’s where worship is different: worship is an act that develops a feeling for God, not a feeling for God that is an act of worship. Through worship, we begin to feel things of and for God that we would not experience unless we worship God.
What about those people who say they can’t find a worship service that speaks to them? There will be days when worship is going to resonate with you more than other worship services. Unfortunately, we’re not all on the same page at the same time. You WILL attend a worship service that is a dud. I’ve been to these worship services. I’m confident I’ve led some of these duds. Worship is not just about style or a particular kind of music or liturgy. Worship is not about us. It’s about God. It’s looking beyond whatever happens in worship and finding the One True God who created you, who loves you and who deeply wants to be in relationship with you. This is worship. Period.
Instead of the line he said in the movie, think of Dennis Quaid saying these words to Brooks, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Let’s discover who God is for us today, whether we feel like it or not. Let’s look beyond the worship elements and simply meet the Lord. Worship is a matter of the heart; our heart being open to discovering God anew today. And when we open ourselves to God, I believe amazing things can happen.
For the opportunity to worship today, I am grateful.
Holy God – Advent is such a special time of the year. A time for us to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. I pray we make regular worship a part of this preparation. Help us be on a journey to Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph and the angel. May we be amazed what happens to our hearts when we worship you. Amen.
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