Quite a few years ago I was serving a church that had a single mom of two hired as the church accompanist. She was a wonderful musician and she and her two children were truly assets to the life of the church. Her children were very intelligent, studious, outgoing, and everything a parent could dream as far as their children goes.
Four years after being at the church this lady’s son was preparing for high school graduation. He was an honor student, had multiple offers for scholarships to prestigious schools, his future was as bright as the sun itself. One week before graduation while driving home one night he witnessed a car leave the roadway, go down an embankment, crash through a fence at a high rate of speed and come to rest in the middle of the field. He pulled his car to the side of the road, got out of his car and began running toward the car now sitting in an open field to provide aid to those in the car.
He got nearly to the car and while running fell into an open cistern in the middle of the field and died. It was later discovered that no one in the car to which he was offering assistance was hurt in any way but all of them were on drugs and/or drunk. As can be imagined, his family felt that their whole world had suddenly gone dark.
This young man’s mother told me that at the time she was bitter at God. She confessed that she no longer could pray, read Scripture, sing, or play the piano. She would attend worship every Sunday but at first she admitted that she was present in body only. One Sunday at the end of worship she walked the aisle to the altar and fell on her knees before God. After I prayed with her she stood up, faced the congregation, and with tears streaming down her face, thanked the congregation for carrying her family during the time that her faith was weak. She said to that congregation, “Your faith and the power of our worship are restoring me!”
There is tremendous power in worship. There is in worship power to restore us when we are down. When our faith is weakened worship will transform us and restore us. It will carry us when we are not able to carry ourselves.
When we come together to worship we experience the basis of what community is supposed to be. When folks enter our worship they are looking for community. Many times the church fails to recognize this fact. We allow ourselves to focus far too much on individuals or ourselves when we worship. We find ourselves making arguments such as, “I like traditional worship…I like contemporary worship…I like this hymn….I like this creed.” When worship becomes solely about individual experience and individual relationship with God worship has ceased to be biblical.
Community occurs when we offer our praise together with all who are worshiping, when we pray and confess our sins as a congregation, and when our diverse voices blend together in harmony to God. When we share together sacred space, dedicating ourselves to serving Christ, these acts brings us unity, and identity, and community.
Weekly worship is absolutely necessary for true community. It is never about a particular style of worship. In worship we learn that God is our center and this allows us to live the lives to which we have been called. We need worship! We need the power that worship offers. We need the fellowship we can only find in the community we share at Trinity UMC.
Join me next time as we consider those we seek to reach through worship…