~ O Lord, my creator, redeemer, and comforter, as I come to worship You in spirit and in truth, I humbly pray that You would open my heart to the preaching of Your Word so that I may repent of my sins, believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and grow in grace and holiness. Hear me for the sake of His name. Amen
This “Prayer Before Worship” is found inside the cover of the LCMS hymnal. I like to get to church early to give my self a few minutes alone to get my head right before it gets too noisy. It’s never really quiet in the sanctuary. At the least there is canned music in the background to informational slides on the screen. Sometimes there are music videos playing Third Day (I like) or 1,000 Foot Krutch(?). Ah, musicians and their vague references. What can you do about them?
Today is a Sunday service as Susan and I led full-contact Bible study the evening before. Saturday service overlaps with the VSG (you decide what that stands for) so no laid back service for us this week. On Sundays the music is more majestic with the organist blowing out the pipes with “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” to start the worship service. Other songs included ”Thine Forever, God of Love” and ended with “Shout to the Lord”. What else happened? Let’s see, I confessed my sins (wah!) with everybody in the sanctuary, but was forgiven my sins (yay!) by our called and ordained servant of The Word, Pastor McClean. We listened to a corporate prayer being said on our behalf as a congregation to God to lead and guide us, show us mercy and His word. Church prayers, those for specific individuals and needs, were uttered later. Of course, The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, benediction and a responsive psalm or two. These are all parts of the order of worship because they all help us in one way or another. We don’t have any filler or fluff, as it were. If Mr. T was a synodical leader, he might say, “I pity the fool who thinks LCMS has time for jibba-jabba”. Of course, many congregants believe the only reasons for church are to listen to sermons and give the church money. Yes, the church needs money to pay bills, salaries, etceteras and other etceteras. Just get used to it. In the few churches where offerings are stolen or not wisely used, The Lord, either through officials here on Earth or on Judgement Day, will see to those responsible. The widow gave her last two mites to the temple coffers and because of that Jesus spoke well of her. Odds are those two mites might have been misused by the pharisees and temple guard. Everything is covered, don’t you worry. And don you worry about the sermon. It isn’t meant for your entertainment or even for good advice for the work week, though it is good instruction for your entire week. The right and proper pastor will explain
why you need a savior
(because you think you know better than God),
what repenting is about
(stopping, turning around, backing away from trouble),
and who will save you from your sins
(Jesus. Your innumerable sins were cast upon Him long ago).
This is what a pastor is supposed to talk about every Sunday. Really. He could just say three or four things, say ‘amen’, and call it a day. For your benefit, however, he does his best to present it in ways that apply to your circumstances. Sometimes those in the pews are receptive, sometimes not. If you find that a pastor isn’t *reaching* you, then help him out by reading the Bible on your own so you can meet him somewhere between his experience and your newcomerness.
Today’s sermon covered three connected topics:
Do you grieve? Do you grieve for society and all the injustices we witness or allow, the commodity of the human body, and other items covered in Amos 6:1-7? I was glad to read it as my disdain for jazz was clearly justified in verse 5: You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.
Do you repent? If you recognize yourself being involved in any of the destructive ways of the world, does it ever occur to you to turn away from them and leave them behind?
Do you truly live? After you have recognized and turned away from the poison of the world do you try to live the life God has for you, a life meant for helping others? There are no shortages of ways to serve Him. If you are new to The Lord you’ll quickly learn that the needs can be overwhelming. Perhaps you don’t see where you fit in.
The best place to start is at the beginning. Maybe the first thing you can do is stop going out and causing trouble, whatever it is that makes other people angry or sad. Your kid’s football team isn’t worth yelling at the ref over; or road rage because someone pulled a boneheaded move on the road; or you had to wait ten minutes for the waitress to get to your table. Bickering on internet forums or at the dinner table only makes the other half of the world mad at you. Take a chill and ask your pastor for advice. He will help you get started down the path of serving Him who made you. And your beautiful wife. And your precious baby girl. And your boy. Everyone will benefit because of Him through you.