Worship: Distracted or Discerning?

I can sure relate to the following!  How about you?

*********

Do you struggle on Sunday morning? Wish you could roll over & get another hour’s sleep? Feel like there’s so much else you could be doing instead of preparing to attend church? And if you were out on the town the Saturday night before, are you sleepy and unable to focus well?

I’ve had all those feelings & situations…many times, unfortunately. I usually struggle to get up & get going, especially if I’ve played a band job the night before. In my heart I want to go to church—and with enthusiasm—but sometimes, my body isn’t cooperating with the program!

Jason Helopoulos is a pastor and author of a book, A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home. I read an article he wrote on the serious business of worship. He would probably contend (as the title of his book suggests) that we can worship anywhere and at any time, but the article to which I’m referring relates solely to Sunday morning corporate worship. He says that worship has the components you might expect, of course: we receive things like grace, peace, truth, love and joy as we partake of worship on Sunday morning. Helopoulos goes on to say that this worship is a two-way street: we give to our God such things as adoration, praise, confession, love, and service.

But the essence of Helopoulos’ article emphasizes that Sunday morning worship is way more than these acts of giving and receiving noted above. A whole lot more, he would contend. “Above all else, worship is an encounter with the living, true, holy, sovereign, triune God of the universe,” he contends. Further, he says, God chooses to meet with us there, and “…there is nothing as meaningful, rich and glorious on earth….” And why is that so? As Helopoulos puts it: “In that moment [of worship], we are enjoying a foretaste of heaven to come, the greatest longing of our soul, and the very purpose for our creation.”

So Sunday morning worship recreates – on a very, very small scale – what heaven will be like with the multitudes loving, singing and praising our God. And unlike our personal prayer times, which are worshipful in and of themselves, there is something more powerful, more communal , even more tribal in the biblical sense, at these times of corporate worship. That’s undoubtedly one of the key reasons the Bible urges us to regularly assemble as believers (Heb. 10:25). Surely, we gather to support one another, to serve others, and to come along side of our brothers & sisters when they are in need, but we’re also there to bind our voices in concert with all others present to love and laud our great God.

This, then, is a great privilege; the God of all creation, who made us & sustains us, is choosing to meet with us in these times of worship. Yes, we’re often tired, distracted, and sometimes our minds are elsewhere, but, as in all things, God is faithful. When we gather, He is there. “Nothing in all the earth is more significant…and remarkable than the reality that God chooses to meet with us week in and week out,” according to Helopoulos. And he’s quite right. Our God, who upholds all creation with a word, agrees to meet with us when we gather. And, as our Lord Jesus counted it all joy to endure the cross [Heb 12:2], I can’t help but imagine that it is with great joy that He comes to worship with us! [See Mt 18:20]

And as I write this, I’m mostly speaking to myself. I want to make sure I go to church each Sunday with joy, thankfulness and expectation, and not as one beaten down by the stresses and anxieties of daily living! And as Helopoulos puts it: Our meeting with our God on Sunday morning should not be a time of “…stiff formality, but rather with intention, attention, and delight.”

By:  Lee Pierce