Worship in Community

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“Let’s enter God’s dwelling place; let’s worship at the place God rests his feet!” (Psalm 132:7, Common English Bible).

“Why do I need to go to church, I can worship God just as well in my rocking chair sitting on my front porch.” You can substitute any number of things for rocking chair on my front porch, “in my bass boat”, “in my deer stand”, “on my tractor” or “mowing my yard” to name only a few.

I have heard all of these and then some. I used to respond by saying, “You can, but you probably won’t.” Let’s face it, when we are focused on something else, are we really involved in worshiping God? Probably not. When we are sitting on that bass boat, as soon as there is a bite on the line, in the deer stand and that ten point buck walks by, on our tractor and mowing the yard we better have at least part of our thinking on safety for ourselves and those around us.

Worship is not an activity we can do while doing something else. God needs to be our focus and these other activities, by their very nature, the lone possible exception of my examples would be sitting in my rocking chair on the front porch, require keeping our focus on things that are not God.

Yes, my answer used to be, “You can, but you probably won’t.” I have come to understand, however, that I was wrong. By that I don’t mean that you will worship God when you worship in those settings. Quite the contrary. The thing is, you can’t worship God in those places because you are surrounding yourself with people of faith.

I don’t mean that we can’t be focused on God while at another place. A few weeks ago I told a story of an encounter I had with God while sitting in a canoe on a lake in Canada. While God was my focus, it was not worship.

When we are on our own, when we are in solitude with God, that is about devotion, it is not worship. Worship is not something we do alone, worship is done in community. Don’t get me wrong, devotion is important, but it is not a replacement for worship.

So why do we even need worship. Well, the biggest reason is, God said it is something we are to do. Beyond that, worship is the only thing the church does that isn’t done elsewhere in society. We should be about serving God by serving neighbor, but it isn’t what should be central in the life of the church. The church must be about worship first. That doesn’t mean all worship has to be done in the church building. Worship happens in parks, in camps, in military settings and even under bridges. Worship can happen where the people of God gather in the presence of God.

It is also important that we remember, worship is not the only reason we go to church. We also come together to study, to fellowship, to lift each other up. Support is one of the biggest things we do when we gather together. We may not always agree, but we are called to love and support one another.

The time we gather each week is important. It is important because of those other things we do, but it is not the most important reason. We gather first and foremost to worship God, gathered together as the people of God. Worshiping together as the community of faith is part of our call. Remember Jesus said, “…For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them” (Matthew 18, 20, Common English Bible).

Today is the day most of us go to worship. So get up and show up. God deserves our worship. Gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ and give God your worship.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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