Morning mornings are different for pastors than for most people. For the majority, Monday is ‘back to work’ day. For many pastors it is a ‘day off,’ and a day to evaluate! Most Mondays I spend some time thinking about the how the various activities of the church went. Invariably, part of my thoughts go to the worship experience. My greatest desire during that 90 minutes of ‘church’ is that those gathered will know that the Lord is present and be encouraged to serve Him joyfully in the week they face. My Monday thoughts often drift toward things like – “Did the people enjoy being there? Did they understand the sermon? Did I connect with audience? Was the music artfully presented to enhance the worshiper’s experience?” Do you see the mistake in those queries? They are about a performance, as if church were a theater. The important questions are much more basic. I should be asking myself, “Was God pleased?” and “Was He the center of our praise?”
When you go to ‘church?’ what expectations do you take along? Do you think about the preacher’s delivery of the sermons, the singers’ songs, the comfort of the building? Or are you hungry to meet with God in a specially focused way, offering yourself to Him, listening to Him, renewing your devotion to Him? To a hungry man, a simple bowl of rice can be a feast!
If the sound system screeches, or if the music is terrible, or if the preaching is disjointed, we may think more about those things than about the Lord. And yet…. we can meet Him anywhere, if we turn our attention to Him. Chapel or cathedral, He is the same. Each month I lead a worship service at a nursing home. The room where we meet is drab, the piano badly out of tune. Some of the congregants fall asleep during the service. Some are confused about what we are doing and ask when the food will be served. Some cannot follow the words of the hymns and ‘sing’ the wrong song or verse. Somehow, when I opened that service with a prayer for us to know the Presence of God, He answered. The mechanics were all wrong but the Person of the Spirit was there. I left with a peaceful sense that He had met the 20 of us in that basement room. That experience reminded me of the importance of making worship about Him, rather than about us.
Worship does not begin and end when you pass through the church doors. Worship is a way of life. Just as ‘church’ is not a performance, so our daily worship is not about the mechanics. Let’s not get lost in counting the chapters we read from the Bible, the minutes we spend in prayer. Instead, each day let us bring our attention to the Holy One, opening to His love. Worship is simply ‘proclaiming His worth!’ It flows from the attitude of our heart. If He is the Lord of our heart and mind, He will be worshiped in our words and actions. And surely if we are worshippers who bring our attention to Him during our commute, in our living rooms, at the lunch room table – we will be better worshipers during the worship service!
Here is the word from the Word. Lord, help us to live in such a way that we are worshipers in Spirit and in Truth, everywhere, all the time.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message)
Come as a wisdom to children,
Come as new sight to the blind.
Come, Lord, as strength to my weakness,
Take me soul, body, and mind.
Come Holy Spirit, I need Thee.
Come, sweet Spirit, I pray.
Come in Thy strength and Thy power;
Come in Thy own gentle way.
Come like a spring in the desert.
Come to the withered of soul.
O, let Thy sweet healing power.
Touch me and make me whole.
Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither
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