There are many reasons why people attend or don’t attend worship at church. Here are a few,
- I like to hear the choir.
- Christmas is my favorite time of year.
- It’s good to see my friends.
- It’s become a habit.
- I want to learn about God.
- The service is boring.
- It’s the one day I can sleep in.
- The sermon goes on and on.
- They just want my money.
Yes, even we preachers think some of these things from time to time! But not yesterday. Not yesterday.
Yesterday was a day that I was reminded of why I enjoy attending worship each week. Besides the fact that it’s my job as a pastor, and that it is so ingrained in me to attend that I can’t imagine not attending worship, here’s the real reason why I attend worship in church….
Are you ready for this?
Are you sitting down?
The real reason I attend worship on a weekly basis is because God seems to always show up there!
God shows up in worship even if the choir isn’t singing, even if the refreshment people had to call in sick, even if it’s a sermon that doesn’t hit it out of the park. God always seems to be present anyway!
Yesterday was a Sunday morning. I woke up with a heavy heart. A good friend of mine, an elderly retired United Methodist pastor who has probably had the biggest spiritual influence in my life recently passed away after a long struggle with leukemia.
He served many roles in my life. He was my first District Superintendent when I was just beginning pastoral ministry. He asked me to serve as his Associate Pastor for my second church appointment. We traveled to Israel together. He and his wife became surrogate grandparents for our two children when they were young since our parents lived out of state. Even in the years when we didn’t live in the same area, we would meet for coffee, lunch, or breakfast and he always had an encouraging word to share with me.
When I served as his Associate Pastor, he taught me what he knew about the daily grind of being a pastor and the importance of staying focused on Christ. Even though he was a father figure, he was also a great friend.
And so, with a heavy heart, I went to church yesterday to lead our two worship services. I had chosen to wear a tie that I bought from the same store where he liked to buy his ties. My paisley tie looks a little outdated, but it was a small way for me to pay tribute to my friend that day.
Before the second worship service, a church member commented on my tie! She said, “I like the paisley look!” I know this was subtle, but it was like God tapped me on my shoulder after that little comment and whispered in my ear, “I’m here for you.”
Following the last worship service, I met a couple who were visiting their family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They live in the opposite corner of the state in a town where my friend and I had served together back in the early 90’s. I smiled as I thought about that small world moment. “Of all Sundays,” I thought to myself. “Thank you, God.”
When this young couple told me that they actually attend the same United Methodist Church where my friend and I had served, that’s when I felt another little tap on my shoulder from God.
“Like I told you, I’m here with you today.”
No, there were no big flashes of lightening or burning bushes during worship yesterday, but I was reminded of why I attend worship each week. It’s because God attends worship, too.
What a novel thought.