I went to church today.
That statement might not sound so surprising, as I can’t remember a Sunday when I was NOT in church. The difference today was that I was not leading worship, or even attending services at Calvary where, even when I am not preaching I am always “on duty”.
Today I had the day off and I was in town, so I leisurely slept late and meandered to worship services at a church in my neighborhood. I didn’t have to dress up, I didn’t have to review my sermon notes, I had no Sunday School lesson to prepare and no list of folks I needed to see.
And it was a soul-filling gift.
I found a good seat, not too far to the front and not way in the back. I loved the first quiet minutes of sitting alone in the pew while the light streamed in through the windows; gazing at the stained glass with the light coming through; watching the people around me greet each other with affection. And, truth be told, I probably could have left after the first hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah and felt that I had a profound worship experience, but I’m glad I stuck around to see all the children in the congregation tumbling up the aisle for the children’s sermon, to hear a word from the pastor that made me finally order that copy of The Message on CD so I can listen on the way to work in the mornings, and to listen to a rendition of “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands” that made everyone (including the woman singing) cry.It was a soul-filling gift.
I got to sit in worship and sing the hymns without worrying about who knew the tune and who didn’t; I could hear the admonition in the sermon without anxiety about the sound system; I could sit and let the words of the pastor flow over me like healing water for a parched land.
It was a soul-filling gift.
. . . because it reminded me how much I love worship; it helped me recall why planning and leading life-giving worship is so critical; it gave me some kernels of truth and challenge to chew on this week; it sent me back out into my world fortified for the week ahead and reminded me again of two important things:
1) The work we do to plan and lead worship is important work, as week in and week out we are creating space for world-weary folks to have their souls filled, and
2) Those of us who lead worship need the same experience.