PRAY daily. WORSHIP weekly. READ your Bible regularly. SERVE at, through, and beyond your congregation.
RELATE with others in inviting and faith-growing, ways. GIVE a 10% tithe of your income.
(These “Faith Practices” are God-shaped activities that help us grow into spiritually-healthy followers of Jesus. As the Danish philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Christianity cannot simply be a doctrine to be taught, but a life to be lived.” These “Marks of Discipleship” are found all throughout Scripture. Lived out with intentionality, these particular behaviors enable us to grow much more fully in the experience of being modern-day disciples.)
Worship is central to who we are as a people of God. Every time we gather to hear and respond to the Word, to offer up our prayers for the needs of many, and to receive Christ’s living presence in the consecrated bread and wine, we seek to “become what we receive”… namely, the Body of Christ for the sake of the life of the world. As we are gathered, fed, and then sent back out in mission, God equips and empowers us to be His instruments of healing and hope, commissioning us to actively live out the reign of God throughout the course of our weekly living.
When you go to worship, what do you expect? For many people, the answer is probably “nothing”. Too many of us have become so settled into our own pre-conceived notions of what worship should or shouldn’t be, and we have also grown rather comfortable in our own subconscious habits regarding worship, that the best we can usually expect is simply more of the same. Our biblically-based, traditional liturgy (along with its connection to the liturgical calendar) can provide a tremendous sense of depth and meaning to all that we do and experience in worship, but when approached casually, it may do nothing to renew one’s spirit.
What do you expect in worship? Do you come hoping to encounter God? Do you prepare yourself to be touched, filled, and transformed by the presence of God’s Spirit? Truth is… what we expect is usually exactly what we get.
But what would happen, if, this coming Sunday morning, you stepped into the sanctuary, fully looking for Jesus to speak to you, to offer strength and balance to whatever you’re carrying within you, and to bring right direction to all that awaits you in the week ahead? What could happen if you approached worship this coming weekend with a heart and mind fully-opened to the possibility of being re-calibrated by God for carrying out some task that he wants you to do? How might you more genuinely experience these very things as you gather alongside the rest of God’s people to receive the gifts of Word and Sacrament?
What helps you to experience the presence, power, and purpose of God more closely in worship?
What do you think it means that even Jesus, himself, considered it both vital and necessary for him to regularly be in worship?
Worship is an invitation for us to enter into a holy setting that actually transcends both time and space and where heaven and earth touch. In worship… as you and I hear and respond to the Word, sing our songs of praise, offer up our prayers, and receive Christ’s living presence in the water, bread and wine… we truly enter into the realm of “the communion of saints” and we are surrounded by those who have not only gone before us, but also the many who will come after us in faith.
Positive Habits regarding Weekly Worship…
- Make worship a priority in your weekly schedule. See it as a gift and opportunity for you to regularly gather with others to receive the life-giving benefits of both Word and Sacrament.
- Come to worship fully expecting to encounter God.
- Spend time prior to worship in silent prayer, asking God to help you put aside all your other distractions, so that you may be open to whatever God hopes to give you in that hour.
- Pray also for everyone else involved in the worship gathering, both leaders and participants. Ask God to bless and help them in whatever ways they most need that day.
- Regard others around you in worship as people whom God loves and forgives. Ask God to help you see and relate to them as God does.
- Give worship your fullest attention. Participate in the liturgy to the best of your ability. Think about what you are doing. Focus on God. Remember that the purpose of worship is not to entertain. Ask God to help you make your worship both acceptable and pleasing to him.
- Bring someone else. Weekly worship is something for you to enjoy, but it is not something to keep to yourself. God wants you to bless others by encouraging them to worship, as well.