Schedule wise, the one thing that is set in stone each week is my Sunday mornings. Without fail, at 7:45 each Sunday morning my wife and I participate in a Bible Study/Sunday School/ Covenant Group session. Following this, we attend one of our congregation’s two “church services.” One is a “traditional” service, the other is “contemporary.” We attend the “traditional” service. I find it easier to become “engaged” in the traditional service.
Recently we made changes in the physical layout of the worship center which moved my rabbi, Pastor Michael, much closer to the congregation. He can keep a closer eye on us out there in the sea of faces. On Sunday, in the greeting line following the service, Mike was teasing me about “sleeping through his sermon.” He knew that I hadn’t been sleeping because I asked some very pointed questions and make some observations about the sermon. OK, why is this worth mentioning?
His tease got me to reflecting on just what I do during that hour or so each Sunday morning.
Sometimes I find that I am “attending worship”. On these morning, I’m there to hear the lesson, learn, share the communal experience, sing and, yes, be entertained by the choir. I think this is what many of us do. We “attend” church or worship services.
Fortunately, on most Sundays my involvement in the service is much deeper. These are the days when the it looks to the rabbi like I am “sleeping.” I’m not. I’m worshiping. I’m focused on God and Jesus. I feel the Holy Spirit actively working in me. I am acutely aware of what is going on around me, even with my eyes closed. But it is nothing like listening to a lecture, attending a play or a concert. It is not about what I am absorbing, but what I am emitting. On those Sundays when I am “in worship” instead of “attending worship”, I’m in deep prayer, giving praise and thanks, asking for strength or guidance or simply listening, aided by the Spirit. On these days, it’s not about what I “get out” of the service, but what I “put into” it.
It doesn’t work for me every week, but when it does, it’s a wonderful experience. And Pastor Michael doesn’t mind at all if I appear to be “sleeping” through his sermon. Much as I love him, he knows I’ve got something more important to do that focus on him.
Alive in The Word