Ecclesiates 5:1-2 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Last week, my husband and I had a conversation with a few friends about how worship services have changed. Since the COVID pandemic, everything has changed. We have had to have on-line worship at home, and then we moved to drive-in worship in the church parking lot tuning to a radio station, and finally, back into the building. Services are still limited, and caution is being taken, but things are still quite different. Some haven’t been able to return yet due to being high risk or having family members with health concerns. Others haven’t returned yet due to other reasons. Some have returned, and are content to just be in the house of the Lord. But some have excitedly returned ready for their journey to meet the Lord in His church.
Getting ready for worship can be compared to getting ready for a journey. When we are preparing for a trip, we pack our bags, we set our destination, and we begin the journey. Some of the travelers with you are giggly and happy, some are looking out the window bored to death, one or two may be looking at their phones, and many are looking at their watches and asking “are we there yet?” I thought about all of the things I’ve seen while traveling whether it be a plane trip with a group of strangers or a long road trip with my beloved family, and I can tell you, I’ve witnessed all of the above. Sadly, I can say that I’ve seen the same things during our worship services as well.
Don’t get me wrong, Peeps. I’m talking to myself too. I’m definitely not perfect, and I’ve been guilty of all of the things I listed above while attending worship. The reason I’m sharing this today is because I want to make sure that while I’m on my journey, I’m a little bit better prepared for the destination. For you see, when we attend worship, our destination is to meet God. We should be journeying to meet our Almighty Father, and not simply enduring the worship service.
Sunday mornings are tough. I wrote a chapter called “Sunday mornings ain’t easy round here” for my last book. Trust me, I know. There is so much to do before leaving the house on Sunday mornings from cooking to cleaning to getting children dressed, finding lost shoes, battling the evil forces that are trying to keep up home, and so much more. Sometimes just arriving in the parking lot feels like we’ve accomplished what we have set out to do. But that is not it, Peeps. We can’t just keep arriving, sitting through the worship service, and then leaving unchanged. We go to church to worship our Lord and Savior and spend a little blessed time with Him in His presence with other believers and even some non-believers.
We go to church to worship. How do we get our minds and hearts ready when we already have so much other stuff on our minds taking our focus away from true worship? We have to prepare for the journey. We first have to get ready to meet God. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes to guard our steps when we go into the house of the Lord. When we enter the physical building or even the spiritual presence of our Lord, we must be reverent and respectful. Remember Moses and the burning bush? He took his sandals off because he was standing on holy ground. He had complete respect and reverence of that place because he was in the presence of God. We also have to pray. We must pray for God to open our hearts to receive His word, and then the important part, we have to really listen to hear what He is telling us. We must humble ourselves before God, and recognize his sovereignty. We need to remember what He did on the cross for each of us. We must remember the great love that our Lord has for us. Next, is the fun part. We get to get our praise on! I love singing praise songs, hearing praise songs, and enjoying praise and worship time with our church family. I can’t be still. I move a bit here and there wiggling with the music. I get so excited singing praises to our Savior. When the praise songs end, true worship should begin. As the pastor leads in scripture reading and preaches the word, our hearts should be fully prepared to receive the message. Our journey is really beginning now. We journey through the word of God. We fill our spiritual bellies. We get fed in the Spirit, and oh how we hunger for the food of the Spirit. Finally, we leave that place or worship, refreshed, renewed, and ready to share what we’ve learned with others.
Worship service can either be a boring trip to church and home, or it can be a marvelous journey. We can muddle through, or we can marvel at the wonders as we travel on our great journey to our destination to have an up close and personal meeting with Christ. So what do you say, Peeps? Are you going on a mundane journey of same old same, or are you preparing for awesomeness this morning? I’m not planning to just have a nice trip. I’m getting ready for an AWESOME ride! Happy Sunday!