Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prepare For Worship

Several years ago, I read a book by Karen Mains about making Sunday the best day of the week, and she suggested that part of our problem with worship is that we don't come prepared. I remember her comparing the Christian attitude of "hurry up, let's go and get there at the last minute...if we don't have anything else planned today" to the Jewish mindset that the day of worship is the high point of the week. For the Jew, she said, Sabbath is the center. Three days before are used for preparation and three days after are used for reflection. Our calendars are not set up that way and our brains aren't wired that way. But what if they were? What if we started seeing Sunday as the high point, the center, of our week?

Recently, I ran across another book by Joshua Harris called "Stop Dating the Church," and at the end of the book, he makes the same argument: Sunday should be much more than it is. And he suggests the reason worship isn't the center is because we fail to prepare ourselves for us, to participate fully in it and to deeply reflect upon it. We hurry in and hurry out, sometimes even leaving before the last hymn or song is over so we can get to the next thing. Worship becomes just something we check off our "to do" list.

Preparation, Harris says, begins with what we do on Saturday night. Getting adequate rest, spending some time reflecting on the Scriptures, spending some time in prayer can all go a long way toward focusing our heart and mind on what is to come. Pray for the service. Pray for the pastors (please!) and the music leader. Pray for our Sunday School teachers. Pray that the electronics functions correctly! Harris points out that we don't go into a sport without "warming up." Why do we think we should go into something as meaningful as worship without being prepared?

One other thing he suggests that I hadn't given much thought to is this: what are we filling our minds with the night before? Watching a movie, surfing the Internet, partying late—do these things prepare us for hearing the word of God? Each and every week, Jesus has something to say to us in worship—are we ready to hear it? Are we prepared to hear it?

This weekend, as you prepare for worship, what will you do to make sure you have a great day in worship?

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