Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worship Together

So. . . It’s Sunday morning, and somehow you manage to get to church and maybe even get your family to church for worship. Have you noticed it’s about 10 times harder to get up and get going on Sunday than on other days? Why is that? Is all the effort of setting the alarm clock, getting up, getting your significant other or others up really worth it?

If all creation shouts and sings the praise of God as the psalmist says, maybe it would be better if we all just slept in and then went to the park, or the lake, or the woods, or someplace else were we could see the beauty of God’s creation. If we are supposed to worship God all the time, why is it so important for us to gather and worship with each other?

I think that we individualistic, American Christians have something just a little wrong. We have this habit of forming our worlds and theologies around the word “I.” We state that we are the body of Christ. We are fond of reminding one another that our bodies are the temple of God, but I think there is a greater mystery here that is missed in our focus on I. I think we forget that I am not the body, and you are not the body, we are all part of the body of Christ. Paul says in 1 Cor 3:16, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” It takes all of us to make the body of Christ. It takes all of us, together. You know what they call a body that is all chopped up into little pieces and strewn around a city? Dead. The same is true for the church. If we don’t come together, and be together, learning from one another, encouraging one another, building relationships and especially worshipping together, then we are not a church.

So week after week we come together. We each come in with our own burdens and joys. We enter the worship space and remember that we are part of a bigger story than the one that happens in our homes and schools, and workplaces. We are part of God’s story. Together we renew our commitment to Christ and to each other every time we enter worship. We sing together, and pray together. We are challenged by God’s word together, we are offered the opportunity to respond together. I know that I have experienced some powerful moments of God’s presence when it is just God and I, But those pale in comparison to the presence of God in the midst of His people. Think back to a time when you saw God in a new way, or saw his power in an awesome way. What were the circumstances? I would be willing to bet that it was a gathering of God’s people – a walk to Emmaus, a retreat, a youth camp, a worship service – yes, even a regular weekly worship service.

Each of us has what I call, a worship voice. Maybe yours is as good as the best soloist, maybe yours is passing the offering plate, greeting those around you, stuffing the bulletins, running the sound board. Maybe yours is slightly off key, or a little rusty from disuse, but the truth is without the voices of everyone, our worship is less that it could be. When each of us comes to worship with all of our hearts, all of our minds, and all of our strength and pours ourselves into the worship of God, there is a sweetness and a power, and a comfort, and a challenge that cannot be found anywhere else. It is a foretaste of heaven, a glimpse of what we were created to do and be.

Paul put it this way in Romans 15:5-7 "May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

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