At my school people love to worship. They love to come together with other Christians to sing, read Scripture, affirm our faith through the creeds, and take Eucharist. We have three chapel worship services during the week and daily morning prayer. Many at my school go to as many services and gatherings as possible.
I think that the desire to worship is great. It is good for future ministers to love doing what the church does… singing, worshipping, reading, celebrating.
But I’ve felt a weird tension inside of me about the constant acts of worship. The problem is, I usually don’t excitedly rush to every opportunity to pray in communion. I don’t get the excited feeling in my heart every time I walk into the doors and see the communion table covered in starched white linens in preparation for the Lord’s Supper. Honestly, sometimes I doubt if I really like going to church.
And, to be honest, sometimes I just don’t go. There are weeks that I don’t go to chapel services at all. There are Sundays when I don’t find a church to worship.
This is problematic for a future pastor. I know that I shouldn’t skip out on opportunities to worship… and I should make time in my schedule to participate in communal prayer. But I don’t think I always have to be excited about it.
There are times that we have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s called being an adult. And as Christians, gathering is one of those things that we have to do. I should make myself go to church as often as possible. Since I’m Methodist now I should try to follow John Wesley’s example… who took Eucharist on average 4 times per week.
But I can’t imagine that John Wesley was excited about worship every time. I’m sure that he wanted to sleep in or hang out with his friends instead of going to worship… but he did it anyway.
I think that is what is so wonderful about the church. We don’t have to come enthusiastically. We don’t have to have the right attitudes or have our lives figured out. We just have to come.
I think that it is more important to be obedient than joyful. If we wait to be joyful before we do things that we should do, we will never do anything (exercise for instance). For the Christian, real happiness comes as a result of doing the things that Christians do. We are formed by our practices.
To think that being happy is the prerequisite for participating in the church is the motivation that drives our rampant consumer church models. We try to make our churches happy places… with music we like and preaching that is good… so that we want to go to church.
But as our Dean, Richard Hays, is fond of saying, “It’s not about you, stupid.” Worship is for God, not for us.
I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t hate going to church a little more. Worship isn’t supposed to be comfortable. The entire point of coming together is to focus our attention on God, rather than ourselves. We can’t do that when we let our desires be the motivation for our church attendance.
…said the hypocrite to the people.