Worship: The Big Event
August 28-29, 2010
Jeanette: School started this week…
Mike: Don’t I know it!
Jeanette: Things a little hectic in your house?
Mike: To put it mildly!
Jeanette: I saw a lot more activity on Facebook this week too! My friends were talking about getting school supplies, new clothes for their kids, hair cuts, bus routes and of course taking those important first day of school pictures!
Mike: And for teachers it’s so busy preparing the classroom and getting class lists and lesson plans ready not to mention fixing glitches in schedules. It’s always remarkable to me how much preparation goes into beginning a new school year – getting ready for that big event!
Jeanette: It’s an especially big event for the new Kindergarten students! Our church treasurer, Patty Wivell told me that her daughter Megan started Kindergarten on Thursday. She was so excited she was up and dressed two hours early – the rest of the family was still asleep!
Mike: For some reason, my wife Lois doesn’t have similar stories about all that excitement from her high school students…
Jeanette: You mean they didn’t get up 2 hours early to be ready for English class?
Mike: I don’t think many of them did! …. Getting ready for school is always exciting, but when our kids were growing up, I always liked the end of the first day of school too. We’d ask them how the day went, who was in their class, who their teachers were, who gave them homework, …
Jeanette: The first day of school is a big event! And most of us take such care to be ready for it and to talk about it afterwards! As we conclude our worship series today, I was thinking about how worship is another big event!
Mike: Wouldn’t it be great if we prepared for worship with the same excitement and anticipation that Kindergarten students prepare for their first day of school?
Jeanette: Imagine if we were so excited about worship on Sundays that we were up and ready 2 hours ahead of schedule!
Mike: Because it is exciting! Worship is not just a place – it is an event – it is a time when we are promised that we God will meet us!
Jeanette: What I think is neat about worship, is that it’s always surprising to me… I never know exactly where God is going to meet me in the service.
Mike: We’ve been talking about the worship service these last several weeks. We started with this circle of chairs and talked about how in our gathering we come together from all over – old and young, far and near — in our worship. Those who use high chairs and those in wheelchairs; those who spend their days at an office chair, and those who spend their days at a school chair.
Jeanette: Sometimes I think it’s clearest that God meets me in our Gathering time. I look around and I see someone whom I haven’t seen in worship for a long time. Or we sing the opening song and I realize that this is one of the few places in this world where all are truly welcome.
Mike: Or together we confess our sins and receive God’s promise of forgiveness. What a wonderful way to begin a week – to center ourselves, to acknowledge how in many ways we’ve failed to be Christ to the world, and then to begin again with the promise that God still loves us.
Jeanette: It’s a big event!
Mike: The next week we moved to our baptismal font. We talked about baptism and the beginning of our new life in Christ – “walking wet.”
Jeanette: I was thinking about baptism a lot this week – we have a new baptized member of St. James! Arletta Bream who lives at Golden Living was baptized this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve baptized an adult – it was such a blessing to see her joy at being claimed a part of God’s family! She made sure she told all the nurses that she was baptized! God most definitely met Arletta at her baptism and she wants the world to know!
Mike: In every baptism – in every bath at this font – God meets us. Just as we heard in the gospel reading for that day at Jesus’ baptism – the heavens are torn apart and God comes down to us. It’s a big event!
Jeanette: Next we moved to the Word of God and how it’s different from all the other words which bombard us every day. The Word of God never returns empty – it gets inside of us – it does something to us – it accomplishes God’s purpose in us.
Mike: Every time we hear the Word of God – it’s a big event! God meets us…
Jeanette: This week we heard a lot of news reports about those 33 miners stuck 2300 feet down in the earth for the next 3-4 months. Can you imagine being trapped down there for that long?! It’s no wonder that they’ve called in experts for their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Mike: I thought it was interesting how after food and water, it seems the things that they really wanted were things which would help them know that God meets them even there…they wanted a crucifix and religious statues so that they could build their own little chapel deep in the ground.
Jeanette: They wanted to be able to gather to hear the Word of God… I don’t think they’ll ever take it for granted that they have the opportunity to worship again. They’ll probably know more than any of us, that having the chance to gather to hear and proclaim the Word of God is a big event!
Mike: The gospel reading for today I think would be especially encouraging for those miners and their families. These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples before his crucifixion. He promises them, that though they will no longer see him in the flesh, the Holy Spirit will always be with them – teaching them and reminding them that God loves them.
Jeanette: And probably the most comforting words they could ever hear at this moment are the words in verse 27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Mike: I really pray that those words do get deep inside of them, working through them. Jesus brings peace – and it’s not the kind of peace that the world gives. The world seems to think that peace only comes when our every anxiety is resolved and our every desire is fulfilled. Jesus’ peace comes in the midst of our ongoing anxieties and our ongoing desires. We grow into knowing that Jesus comes to us – that God meets us — especially during those times.
Jeanette: And when we hear and proclaim the Word of God each week in worship, we prepare ourselves for the difficult times (like the miners are now experiencing) when God seems more hidden yet is closer than ever.
Mike: Next we moved to the table and the meal we share with each other. We talked about how God comes to us in the bread and wine in the most intimate and personal way.
Jeanette: And yet it’s also communal – it’s something we share together with all the saints of past and present. … I’ll go back to the miners’ families – when they receive communion these next several weeks, they will be sharing it with their husbands, fathers, and sons who are stuck down in the mine. It could be the most intimate experience they can have right now with their loved ones — just as it is the most intimate experience we can have with God on earth. I have no doubt – for those miners’ families, the Communion meal is a big event!
Mike: Finally we reached the Sending part of the service. It’s the time that we go out into the world and share God’s love with others through what we do and what we say.
Jeanette: We had this clothing rack here to remind us that as we leave this place, we go to our daily lives – we wear different uniforms or different hats than we do on our day of worship. But nevertheless, we are carried out into the world, by what we’ve experienced here when God meets us in worship.
Mike: Our sending is really the beginning of our mission of the week – to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jeanette: It seems to me that a week is just right – a week is about as long as I can go before I wear out and the promises I heard from God in our gathering, bath, Word, meal and sending seem to fade. I need to be renewed, refreshed, reminded, revived through worship every week.
Mike: Worship is something we need – it’s a gift from God. And it’s also good to remember that it’s something God commanded as well. God tells us that it is right to give God thanks and praise!
Jeanette: Worship is all about God – and I suppose that’s one of the ways that this gathering is different from other gatherings which also can renew and refresh us. God meets us in many different places and with many different people, but at worship, God promises to meet us here. We encounter God here.
Mike: It’s a big event!
Jeanette: It would be great if our hearts would be open to experience it each week as a kindergartner looks forward to the first day of school – preparing, anticipating, knowing that we will be meeting God!
Mike: I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get much sleep on Saturday night – there’s a big event to look forward to on Sunday!
Jeanette: Amen! Worship – God meets us – it’s a big event!