Pastor Ross Lieuallen
Putting on Your Sunday Best!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! (Ps. 100 1-2)
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart. (Eph 5:19)
Last weekend at our Big Sky Gathering, I did a workshop on worship entitled: Rut, Routine, or Adventure with God? We discussed many aspects of Sunday worship, from our own preparation, to songs, to announcements, to our response to Jesus. I won’t download everything we discussed in the seminar. But one thing I do want to challenge all of us about: our own preparation for, and engagement in, Sunday morning worship of our great God! Do we think about putting on our “Sunday best” as we think about goin’ to church? Are we all there, when we’re there?
How do we prepare for Sunday morning worship? Do we even prepare? Teams will spend all week preparing for one game. Choirs will prepare for one song. Students prepare for finals. Contractors prepare for bids. Pastors prepare sermons..…well okay, some do! What does it mean to prepare with expectation to meet and worship God on Sunday morning?
I totally get it. Worship is every day, not just a Sunday event! That said, we do set aside Sunday mornings, and sometimes Sunday evenings, to worship Christ with others in Christ. We had three Holy Week services, and I totally appreciate all of you who attended and gave your focus to Jesus in renewed ways. But again, whatever the time, do we even think “preparation”? Most of us reading this have been in church for most of our lives. Do we hope “something” will just happen to inspire us? And what if that “something” doesn’t happen? Was our time wasted?
What could it mean to put on our “Sunday best” in preparation? I shared some ideas with the folks in my seminar. Try on some of these (pardon the pun), and see if Sunday morning becomes an adventure, and ascribes fuller “worth” to our great God!
- Spend time with God beforehand. What a novel idea! We barely make it in time for church some mornings, don’t we? Whether it be Saturday night or Sunday morning, (or both), take some time to be with God. Ask God to give you a heart of worship, and to heighten your expectation of worshiping Him with others. Ask Him to give you a sense of worship rather than feeling like you’re going a routine.
- Come to church to give. I’m not talking about giving of finances, though tithes and offerings are a part of worship. I’m referring to giving our hearts, our words, voices, talents, and energy in worship! We all want to “get” something out of our worship experience. And sometimes that need to get drowns out the greater need to give to God and others. Dealing with our consumerism attitude is not easy. It’s the main reason many people leave one church to attend another….they’re not “getting” anything out of it. That may not be your story, but it’s true for many sincere Christ followers. Instead, give Him praise. Give Him your heart. Give Him your decisions. Ask God, what do I give anew to You, this morning?
- Pause during the worship service. Even if you are not asked to pause, it’s good to have your own personal moments to pause and reflect. What was just sung? Did I find meaning in a verse of the song? Can I apply that Scripture reading to my life in any way? Did I agree with that point of the pastor’s sermon, and if not, why not? Where am I struggling with something in my walk with You, Lord? My friend and colleague, Bruce Young of True Hope church in Boise, ID, shared that while he was on sabbatical, he went to over 20 churches. And only one church had a moment in their service where people were invited to be silent, to confess sins and claim forgiveness. Whether or not that moment is offered every Sunday, we can offer it to ourselves!
- Increase your stations. I grew up in a house with a one TV station. We only got one station from the antenna on our back porch! All other stations were fuzzy! Cable never reached the farm! Oh my, I was deprived! Sometimes we are one station antenna worshippers! But God is into cable. We need to expand our ability to “receive” various stations. For example, some people worship primarily through singing to express their love for Christ. If that’s you, ask the Holy Spirit to help you find expression through prayers, readings, and the message. If your “station” is the message, then ask for desire and ability to sing to the Lord!! If your strong suit is more social and you are fed by God through fellowship, then perhaps a growth point is to ask for a desire to worship through song, reflect on readings, or take notes on the sermon.
A final, funny story. John Trent in an article entitled “Father’s Heart” shared a funny but true story. He watched a wedding video on a TV show that was shot from the back of the church, looking up the aisle toward the bride and groom. Because of the camera angle, you could see several members of the congregation. During the vows, a man jumped up from his pew and yelled, “Go, Go! Yes!” as he pumped his fist. Then he froze and slid down into his seat—sheepishly taking off his headphones. He had been listening to the Auburn-Alabama game, and his favorite team had just scored!
So when we put on our Sunday best, let’s make sure we’re there when we’re there! Blessings,