Sunday is often the craziest morning of the week as we gather our family together and rush out the door in the hopes of making it to church on time. This series of events has us arriving on Sunday frustrated and often in the middle of a marital tiff which was sparked by the craziness of the morning. Unfortunately, that makes it too easy for us to begin our Sunday morning worship experience with a critical and distracted heart.
The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman are helpful for us in this conversation. Jesus says, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24 ESV)
His words are not limited to Sundays. He is speaking about living a life of worship. However, that life of worship has everything to do with our Sundays. When we understand that God is pursuing worshippers and we apply that to what we read in Hebrews 10, our understanding of the importance of the Sunday gathering is elevated. The author of Hebrews says, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
Our God is pursuing our worship and has created us to be transformed through the blessing of the corporate worship gathering. If this occasion is so important to our God, then it is worth a few points of preparation. Instead of arriving each Sunday frustrated, angry, and critical, the following are a few action items that might help.
Pray Ahead: As you are putting your children to bed on Saturday night, pray for the next morning. I like to pray for the morning and pray that we will meet and make new friends that God will bring the next morning. Personally, get your heart ready the evening before. Spend a few moments with the Lord asking Him to prepare your heart for the next morning – for both a calm departure and the morning of Word and worship.
Prepare Ahead: A few basic things such as laying clothes out for children and talking through the morning’s responsibilities may be helpful. Also, know your lunch plans so that you can depart and process through God’s work amidst the morning, instead of what you’re going to eat. Read the primary scripture text for the next morning’s sermon and possibly even create a playlist with the worship songs to play over the morning as everyone is eating breakfast and getting ready.
Rise Early: At Crossings Community we ask our regular attenders to be present by 10:30am so they can be a welcoming presence for our guests. Set your alarm earlier and then leave earlier. Arrive at church early, and with that extra time, grab some coffee and begin worshipping by seeking to stir others to love and good works, as the scriptures instruct.
Arrive Early: Arrive early so that you can greet friends but also be ready to begin worshiping in song when the first notes are played. I know that our God wants our minds and hearts focused on responding to Him for those 80-90 minutes. He is worth the hard work it may take for us to arrive early and be fully present in worship each week.
Prepare to Give More Than You Get: Prepare to give more than you get, but be confident that you will get more than you could have possibly given. That may sound crazy to you, but pray and strive to give more to those around you, and you will find that He does more in you and through you than you could have ever expected. Give by greeting those around you. Give through worshipping freely and authentically, encouraging those around you. Give by confessing and praying with those around you. Give yourself freely to the move of the Spirit through the Word of God preached and you will be a blessing to those that surround you.
Amidst all of your goals and resolutions for 2017, what if you committed to truly preparing yourself and your family to worship in sprit and in truth each Sunday morning? It is a worthy pursuit and would create amazing God stories, personally and corporately, over the next 50 Sundays of 2017.
Are there any specific ways to prepare for worship that you have found valuable for you and/or your family?