I’ve been thinking about our worship last Sunday. It was different, we met in our fellowship center and had brunch. We had to squeeze into the room, it’s not really big enough. A few of our folks who use walkers had some difficulty, but people pitched in to help. Little Kevin, only one leg, moved about without any problem.
We talked about friends and friendship using verses out of Proverbs. Some avoided the topic and hijacked the conversation. Some probably didn’t talk (that’s ok), some didn’t understand why we were talking about friends. Out of 80-some folks only 27 completed a commit card where I asked you to commit to making a new friend, invite a friend, or just get to really know someone at SOH. I guess a 33% return isn’t too bad.
I’ve had some conversation this week with the SOH family and here are some comments I’ve heard:
“It was too crowded”, “Why didn’t we worship in the sanctuary and then have lunch?”, “I didn’t like the way we did communion”, “I was uncomfortable”, “Why didn’t the children go to Sunday School (presumably so they would be out of the room – that person doesn’t have children)”.
More than one person, with joy in their voice, said, “I met a new friend!” I said, “Great! Who is it?” And the reply, “Oh, I don’t know their name.” … Might I suggest you did not make a friend, you had a “social interaction with someone.”
When you first came to SOH someone (probably more than one) made the effort to learn your name and somehow you made friends with people, hopefully, getting together for dinner or mission or bowling, or just hanging out. Studies show that, typically, people will know about 20 people really well at their church and will have acquaintances with 40-50 others. That means, with about 90 in attendance each week, you can know about 1/3 to half of the people so there are quite a few you can take time and make the effort to get to know others. Heck, I had to ask some of you your name at least a dozen times before my feeble brain learned it! Ask! When you show interest, even if you must ask over and over, it communicates that you are at least interested in that person.
Worship. What is worship? It comes from two Old-English words; ‘weorth’, meaning something having worth or being worthy. The second word is ‘scipe’ or ship which carries the meaning of shape or quality. Worship then is having the “quality of being worthy” or “having worth.” When we ‘worship’ God we demonstrate our recognition of our relationship to God. We give thanks, we praise him, we give him glory by our humility before him and acknowledge his power and greatness.
Worship is one of the primary reasons for our existence! 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” This is part of our job description as Christians – we are to declare God as worthy, give him praise, and sing and speak that he is better than anything else!
When we speak about God in such terms, sing to him, pray, and fellowship (there’s that ‘ship’ again) we are worshipping. So, I ask, did we worship on Sunday?
Is there more than one way to worship? Or, must we sit in rows looking at the back of the head in front of us, never turning to meet the person next to us, all the while, watching the talking head up front? For two weeks, we have varied our worship setting, style, and atmosphere. If you have been a bit uncomfortable, good! It means that something is happening and you are paying attention, you may not understand, but you are paying attention. When we become too comfortable, familiar, and, perhaps complacent, in worship, we really aren’t glorifying the Creator of the universe – we’re doing something else entirely.
Again, I ask, “How will you worship God today?” Each day, seek a way to show God he is worthy and praise him. It might be simple with a worship song and prayer or by sharing God with a friend.
Oh, we’re back to friend’ship’ (there’s THAT word again). “Quality Friend.” Let me ask, and be blunt; if you don’t know someone’s name, can you really claim they are a friend? What kind of quality friend are you if you don’t know that first, basic, important fact?
I freely acknowledge that to be a friend is often very hard work. It is sometimes one-sided. It is someties thankless (at least in the present). It is always worth it. When you become a friend, and build a friendship (quality takes time!) you are valuing the life of the person you are with and in the process, you give glory to God for his creation. In a very real sense, when you demonstrate true friendship, you are worshipping God. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” ~Genesis 1:27
I invite you to allow God to expand your notion of worship, your adaptability to opportunity for worship, and to experience the wonder and glory of the One who loved you so much he sent his Son for you. “Seek him and you will find him” in the eyes of each new friend.
Grace and peace to you! Pastor J.