What Am I Grateful for Today… Worship

Jeremiah received the Lord’s word: Stand near the gate of the Lord’s temple and proclaim there this message: Listen to the Lord’s word, all you of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you[a] in this place.Don’t trust in lies: “This is the Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple! The Lord’s temple!” (Jeremiah 7:1-4, Common English Bible)

Everyone seems to love to say something to the effect of, “I really don’t like Mondays.” Hey, I get it. I understand what you mean. I am not a big fan of Monday either. It is just such a let down from Sunday. Sunday is my favorite day of the week.

I love Sunday because I love worship! Sunday is my favorite day of the week because I love worship!

What is that you said? I can worship any day of the week? All I have to do is be in the presence of God? I turns out I was wrong.

What we all too often believe is worship isn’t really worship at all. It is devotion. Devotion is what we do when we are alone. Worship is done in community.

For years I have heard people say, “I can worship God on my _______________ as I can in the church.” You can fill in the blank (bass boat, tractor, rocking chair, etc.). My response used to be, “Yeah you can, but you probably won’t.” Again, I have come to understand I was wrong.”

In my experience, when we decide we are going to try (emphasis on try), to worship on our own, it is because there is something we don’t like about the church. I don’t like the worship time. I don’t like the style of music. I don’t like the preacher. I don’t like all the liturgy. I don’t want to sing. I don’t like that person who sits on the third row. I think you probably get the idea.

Do you notice a trend there? Perhaps you need to re-read the paragraph.

All those things start with the letter/word “I.” It is all about me and what I want. Would you believe worship, by definition, isn’t about me at all. Worship is about what we bring to God! We bring our gifts (spiritual, talents, tithes). We bring minds. We bring our souls. We bring our hearts. In other words, we bring all we are.

We bring all we are and unite with other believers. We come together to worship God but it is even more than that. We come together for worship but we also come together to serve. We come together for fellowship. We come together to lift one another up, to support each other, to love each other. Remember John’s words in his first letter, “You can’t say you love God you can’t see if you don’t love your neighbor you can see” (my paraphrase).

Many have been hurt by churches. I am truly sorry that has happened to you. I wish it could have been different for you. Christians can be, and many are difficult. That just means we are all alike. We are all messed up and need the grace of God in our lives. At least to me, the place we best experience that grace is within the Body of Believers. In other words, the Church. So, each of us need to pick ourselves up and search for a place where we can worship, a place where we can fellowship and find support for the difficult times that come in life for all of us.

I ran across a story sometime ago. I’m not sure who wrote  it but I want to share it with you today. It is titled, “The Lonely Ember.”

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.

After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a door nail.”

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

So, today I am thankful for Sunday. Well, what I am really grateful for is worship, whatever day celebrate being in the presence of God as we gather with like minded believers.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Take a moment to write it down in your journal. Then share it with someone. Let them know that something for which you are grateful today.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, 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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