Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, * "Let us go to the house of the LORD."
There are Sundays when I feel like not going to church. I have a favorite editorial cartoon. It shows a man in a bathrobe sitting in a Lazy boy recliner, with a newspaper spread on his lap, a remote control at his side, with a football game on the television screen in front of him. He’s holding some papers in one hand and a small microphone in the other. The caption reads “Pastor Smith was able to make Sunday mornings much more relaxed when he realized the wireless mike worked from the pastors residence.”
Sometimes getting up on Sunday, getting out the door, getting to church takes a huge amount of energy. It can feel like there is some invisible force field trying to slow my every move. Reasons to skip church come to mind: “Too much to do, need time for myself, I loose my whole morning”, and others flood my mind. And I’m the pastor!
I think there is an invisible force field that tries to prevent us from worship. It uses tiredness, busyness, sadness, hurt, frustration, and anything else it can to prevent our meeting with other Christians to worship the living God.
The irony is that sometimes the mornings that I find most difficult to arrive for worship turn out to be the most profound. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting Christians who lived in parts of the world, where going to worship put them in danger: An Anglican bishop in Pakistan who lost a son who was shot and killed to send a message to his father, a bishop from Nigeria, whose family has been assaulted twice, and their home robbed twice, a priest from Vietnam who spend 5 years in a “re-education” camp, a woman from a middle eastern country who would be killed by her male relatives if she ever sets foot in her home country again, a priest in the Sudan who was kidnapped and held at gunpoint twice, and survived air raids on several of the church buildings where he served.
All of them could have been free from this persecution if they would stop worshipping. Yet for each of these people, it is worship where they discover the strength to persevere. When you worship with these people, you know that they are glad to be in the house of the Lord. Their lives are full of joy.
I take freedom to go to church for granted. I may experience some mild hostility for being a Christian. I may experience some spiritual warfare trying to prevent me from showing up for worship.
But when I arrive I am glad to be with my brothers and sisters at the house of the Lord. It is in worship that I again hear Jesus voice, know his mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love. It is in worship that I get strength to serve and follow him again.
Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.