What’s Going on Here?
“What’s going on here?” That’s the question the teacher asks when she returns to find her classroom in chaos, or the parent when he sees his children misbehaving. “What’s going on here?” my also be an appropriate question to ask many congregations as they assemble week after week to worship God.
What goes on in church, like the conduct of a class in the teacher’s absence, can be a far cry from what it ought to be in the hour of worship. Some worship services are little more than forms of entertainment. Others center around majestic music and rote liturgy that may or may not foster true worship. All too often we spend the hour in whispered remarks and mental wonderings.
Concentrating on the order of service might help us spend our time in church truly worshiping God. The service begins with the call to worship in which the voice of God himself is heard summoning us to bow before him in adoration and praise. Then the invocation follows, with the minister leading the people in prayer for God’s presence and blessing while we worship. As the congregation rises to sing the doxology and the hymns, we voice our praise of the triune God.
When the Scripture is read the voice of God speaks to his people. In the pastoral prayer the minister prays on behalf of the people, expressing our praise and voicing our petitions to our Father in heaven. The sermon is an explanation of the meaning of God’s revelation in the Bible and its relations to life.
Such activities demand attentive and wholehearted participation. Absentminded singing is mock praise; to whisper or look around while Scripture is read is to despise God’s voice.
Yet we don’t want to communicate that worship is a severe, depressing experience. It is serious, because we are approaching the almighty God of the universe. But it is also a joy and a delight. And how do we cultivate a sense of joy and delight in worship? By cultivating a good memory. We must always remember as we come together what God has delivered us from—bondage and sin, death and decay; and what he has delivered us for—eternal happiness such as we can scarcely imagine on earth.
What’s going on in your church? In you?