Flavor of Worship (Aug. 8, 2008)
I'm thankful that there is something deep inside us that wants to round up our neighbors and praise our one God in public on a regular basis. "Do not forsake assembling" says the word.
If we didn't meet, the closest to worship we might come is buying more stuff together at Walmart. But I reckon that's against one or more of the commandments.
When you think about it- all we do is either worship of, or ministry for, God (or some combination of both at the same time). I've found by experience worship is a whole lot easier.
Having said that, lets not just pat ourselves on the back for being there, or by calling it all "good" and putting on a sticker that says "I went to church today."
Calling church "good" when it isn't would be something less than the purity of heart God wants when we worship. And watch out- God has been known to flee the building despite what we might think (Ez. 9-11). Come on Let's admit it, church can be "bad."
Remember all those "lettuce" prayers, the jokes that neither constituted a message or warmed us up, all the flesh to flesh banter. Remember all the late, late starts, the never ending sermons. We have all tasted salt that has lost it's saltiness.
Saturday Night Live, back in the day, had a segment "Really Bad Art." No offense to you God, who are worthy of all our praises, but I'm supposing that we churchgoers would not have to work too hard to produce several segments of "REALLY BAD WORSHIP."
We have all been there:
o The echoes of a poor sound system- everybody gave up listening years ago to all but the briefest comment, joke, or announcement, or occasional offensive utterance.
o The fitting children and parents- "just ignore them." Easy for you to say.
o The occasionally devout business person, or the church politician now has the mic, selling something besides Jesus, while no prophet has ever touched a mic.
o The continual clapping for men, about which I suppose God asks "I wonder if they clap for me at their house?"
o The hyper-informailty of guys and gals now standing alone in "cool" spaces, not so cool a month later.
o The hyper formality of a crowded altar when everybody has lost his place, and wonders "who is on first?"
o The lonely folks whose every fear has been played before the altar call.
o The pastor's weekly diatribe about his own personal demon, not yet cast out (but our pastor is a _________ and he can't have demons-ok if you say so).
o Three hours discerning the present spirit, and then the "featured" speaker opens to folks who are leaving.
o "The pastor's vacation, new furniture, month long appreciation day, sister's baby shower, give twice today collection, or the ubiquitous "building fund" that builds nothing.
o The soloist who has more money than talent- as proven by the cheerful groan of the congregation.
o The drummer who plays too loudly for the biker adult beverage hall let alone the house of God.
We've all been there or here, crying "uncle." Yet there's no escape, save an occasional Sunday- when we are "out of town travelling."
But thanks to God, gracias a Dios, we have also been there when:
o God's voice pops up and quickens our spirit.
o some newcomer gets to pray or preach.
o The teenagers get to talk about their mission trip, or their social service, or their green project, or a friend who came to God.
o A husband or wife get to say something about love on their anniversary.
o A new song, up tempo, easy to sing.
o The pastor leaves his dog stories, and his pet peeves at home.
o A visiting preacher preaches and the pastor stays out of it.
o Somebody is authorized to say what God is saying right then and there to that group of folks- what a concept- prophecy.
o The fellowship time is less "delete" and more love.
o A day when God gets more credit than man! "I can only imagine..."
o Somebody in charge knows that "slow and slower" is not the only speed in church.
o Everybody smiles at least once.
o The message works- the men gain mercy and the mice are encouraged.
o The Spirit manifests and everyone reflects the image of God.
Oh dear God why have you made worshipping together so necessary to us when we mostly do it so badly?
"It keeps you humble."
I thought you would say something like that, or "patience".
Any other words of loving wisdom Lord, before I cut this short, we're running a little long as you know?
"Yes, my son, what you call 'really bad' worship, at least you're sometimes on the right subject, that would be me, in case you have forgotten."
"And my son at least you are not home so quick watching the Cowboys. But, then again, I suppose my other son told you about them at the 'quick and easy early service' as he puts it. He does seem to have that cheap grace thing down pat. But I've heard folks at that service say 'he's a very good administrator and likes nice restaurants and things of that nature.' "
While I've got your ear Lord, "what should I tell folks who get offended thinking our worship could be 'bad?' "
"Have them read Ezekiel 9-11, and remind them that I've fled such worship before, that the Spirit blows where He wills, in case anyone hadn't noticed."
What a relief, if I dare say so Lord, to hear you say that "it's not all good."
I looked at my watch, got up from my desk, with "you got that right" ringing in my ears.
Peace Out Brothers and Sisters.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...