I very much appreciate your answers from yesterday’s question. They were both thoughtful and thought provoking.
I have two answers. The first is a little bit longer. It’s the, I have a blog without a limit on word count, answer. The second is my garage sale answer.
When I bring my sinful self along with my little sinners into the worship space on Sunday morning and we place our sinful bottoms in the pew, there are some things that I can count on every single time.
My empty vessel, tattered and torn, weary and worn from all the world took from me throughout the previous week, is about to be filled. I know without a doubt, I’m going to hear the word of God. From the welcome to the sharing of the peace to the invocation and at every single moment up and through the benediction, I am going to hear the word of God. Worship is rooted in scripture, every word, and by the time I leave, I am filled. (Even on those days when I don’t feel it.)
Side note: A very nice couple came into our home last night. They are from the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We had spoken with them before, and now had the opportunity to make an appointment and invite them in. Before they arrived, I was a little apprehensive. My husband was there and I knew he had the reins, but still I was uncertain about how the evening would go. Until these words came as melody in my head, “Jesus said, take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid, do not be afraid.” (Thank you VBS musicians.) And then, soon after, these words sung by my husband, “These things are written that you may believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia.” Those words specifically are just a small part of our liturgy for Sunday morning worship. The rest of the verse from John 20 says this, “and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Life. That’s what I know I will hear.
Back to worship. Soon, very soon after I enter, I get the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. I don’t have to sit brewing in the ugliness of my sin in the presence of my Heavenly Father for very long before He says, “Bring it,” and I do and He says, “You’re forgiven of all of it. All. of. it.” It’s balm for the soul.
The pastor preaches Jesus. I’ve heard of more than one pastor, my husband included, being asked in exasperation, “Why do you have to talk about Jesus every week?” He better. Remember, I’m sitting in the pew and I need desperately to hear about Jesus. So do my children.
Our larger church body is quite incredible. Not only are God’s good gifts offered in my home congregation, but when I’m traveling, I know that I can be treated to the same feast in a congregation just like mine. I know that even though our friends and family across the world are thousands of miles apart, we’re all singing the same words and hearing the same promises. I know that we’re praying earnestly for one another. I’ve seen our church body work in times of trial and tribulation and while we mess it up more often than any of us would like, there are traces of brilliance in how we care for one another, because Jesus is always, always there.
Being new members in a new congregation has been difficult. For me. I cannot speak for my husband. He has a different relationship with the congregation and a different opportunity to know them than I do. But, I know under all the unfamiliarity of the people, is our God, the one true God whom I know and who better still, knows me. So while I fumble around in my new environment, I know that I can walk into worship and hear words like, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” and I am home.
I love my church because I’m reminded that my sinful self has been drowned in the waters of baptism. I’m offered forgiveness, life, and salvation through His body and blood and through His word preached in truth in purity. We hear Christ crucified and raised for us every single week. We hear how He is coming back. I cannot wait.