The Wright family is back from our trip to Irian Jaya (don’t look it up on a map -- there is no Irian Jaya any more). As sad as it is to get back into the swing of school, work, etc., after our Summer vacation, all of us agree that it’s still worth it to see all of our school friends and FCC family again.
Special kudos go out to Michael Uhler this week, who called me on Saturday evening to ask, “Hey, who’s leading the worship music this week...?” Somehow, everyone’s lines had gotten crossed, and everyone thought that someone else was covering it (note: I’ve appreciated the opportunity to give Vanessa a Sabbatical this Summer, but I’m looking forward to having things a bit more stable come the Fall). Michael prayed, scrambled and put together an absolutely wonderful a cappella worship service of hymns that everyone found very moving. He was an example to all of us about how God can use even our smallest, sincere bit of an offering.
That example, in turn, then inspired Michael Wainwright, whose testimony while sharing the pastoral prayer moved even more people. His transparency about anxiety -- and yet, his willingness to get up and lead us in prayer -- again showed us how powerful it can be to simply be willing to be used by God, even when it’s hard for us to do so. Maybe even especially when it’s hard for us to do so.
The reason that I specifically bring these two instances up is that we began a new sermon series this week, talking about preparing our hearts for worship. All that work and prep that I went into putting together the sermon paled beside the eloquence of these two, quiet testimonies of men who simply rose to the occasion to help others draw closer to God.
But at its core, that’s what worship basically is. Whether you’re talking about singing, or praying, or submitting your attitudes to Christ, worship is simply drawing close to God to ascribe to Him the worth that He’s due. It’s saying that He’s worth us singing His praises, He’s worth us lifting our prayers to Him, He’s worth us reading His Word, He’s worth us stopping and considering how we interact with those around us in order to make sure that we’re actually being the best ambassadors to the lost and members of His Body that we can be.
Singing a cantata or pushing a broom at work can be equal acts of worship (or not), depending upon how and why you do them. Do you act (sing that aria, push that broom, etc.) for your own benefit, or to give your heart first and foremost to God as an act of worship? Do you engage in conversation (or neglect to do so) with a check-out clerk because of how nice you think that they are (or aren’t), or because you think that God is worth telling those around you about? And when you do worship, do you focus on doing what’s the most convenient, most comfortable to you personally, or do you focus on lifting up God’s worth however He calls you to do it at that moment? The former is fine, but it’s not worship, because it places you first -- the latter is worship because it places God first.
Stop and think about when and how you worship. Do you tend just to think about music? Or about prayer? Worship is far more than that, far more than just a distinct action here or there. At its core, it’s an attitude of the heart, and it needs to be an ongoing, every day thing.