One of my favorite things to do when driving in my car is to listen to the uplifting Christian music played on Life 102.5. The songs that the radio station plays seem to always put me in a better mood and I really enjoy having the opportunity to praise God as I am traveling around doing visits or heading to and from work. I also find myself inspired by many of the short inspiring messages that are offered up by radio announcers and the ones given by well-known pastors and theologians. In fact, the other day Chuck Swindoll a preacher associated with Insights for Living shared a thought/faith provoking bit of knowledge that was so encouraging I felt I needed to share it in my newsletter article this month!
While attempting to provide an answer to the thought provoking question, “why people attend worship”, Mr. Swindoll offered up a rather perceptive but simple reason that would be hard to argue with. After briefly talking about people going to church because they have friends and family members who attend, because it is something they have always done as a force of habit, or because they hope to get inspiration from the sermon and/or the music, he informed his listeners that individuals should go in order to experience God in Word and Sacrament.
After all, it is at church where we fully experience Jesus in a tangible way through the bread that becomes his body and the wine that becomes his blood. It is at church where we can truly share the kind of forgiveness and love that God offers to us as we confess our sins together and share God’s peace with one another. It is at church where we can begin to figure out our place in the body of Christ that Jesus and the Apostles encouraged all believers to be a part of. After all, as the author of a devotion in the Bible in One Year reminds us, “The Christian life is meant to be lived in company with others, not alone. Hebrews 10:19-25 urges us to live in community with other followers of Jesus.”
This fall as we adjust to our new worship schedule with worship every Saturday Night at 5:00pm and every Sunday morning at 8:30am (beginning September 3rd), I think it might help us to take some time to think about why we come to worship. Is it something we do for ourselves so that we can be uplifted, inspired, so we can learn and grow in our faith? Is it something we do for God as a way of showing our gratitude and thankfulness for everything he has done and continues to do for us? Is it a combination of the two?
There are lots of different places we can feel welcomed, places where we can meet and hang out with friends, places where we can sing songs etc…..There is only once place, however, where we can actually taste and see the wonderful goodness and love of God! As Alvin Rogness shares in The Word for Every day, “Worship is not designed to create or stimulate a mood or a feeling in the worshipper. If the worshiper, and not the one worshiped, becomes the focus or the center, then everything has gone wrong.” Whatever your reason is for attending church I think we should all try to remember Chuck Swindoll’s response as to why worship is important, “The church is the only place we can experience God firsthand in the sacrament of communion.” Finally, we worship because God deserves and desires our worship. I look forward to seeing you in church!