Monday, September 22, 2014

After Worship

So you've been to worship. You've sung the songs. You've heard the Scripture. You've said your prayers and you've endured the sermon. What now? Is worship just something we check off our "to-do" list, or is there some way we should respond?

If we have come ready to encounter Jesus, expecting him to show up, and if we have in fact been in God's presence, such a time should change us in some way. We should not leave worship the same as we came in. And part of the way we express that is by responding to whatever it is we heard God say to us in worship. Sometimes that message comes to us through the music, or the prayers, and sometimes, miraculously, even through the sermon. We should leave worship ready to change our world, to make a difference this week, to live differently this week from the way we did last week. Worship should energize and shape our entire week.

James says that we must find a way to not only hear what God says, but to do it. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at him or herself, goes away and immediately forgets what he/she looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do" (James 1:22-25). 

Perhaps one way to approach this is to spend the day of worship reflecting on what you have heard in worship, and considering ways to express that. This could happen in private prayer or around the dinner table or in conversation with friends over coffee. How will I live out what God expects of me? And then, the rest of the week becomes an attempt, however fumbling, to actually live it out. To, as James says, do what the Word of God says. 

After worship is not a time to put the experience behind us. It is a time for the experience of worship to be internalized first and then externalized or lived out. To do less is to take worship for granted, to treat is as just another thing we have to do. Worship should change us. Our worship might even change those around us.

What did you hear in worship last weekend? In what way will you live that out?

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