From the Pastor
Being that this is the season of Lent and it is a time of reflection and repentance, can I be open with you all? If you are not prepared for my openness, then you might want to stop right here. However, for those who are willing to continue, here goes nothing. As a pastor in the local church I find myself trying to please the masses as often as I can. As most of you know this is impossible, so the majority of the time I have to find ways to partially satisfy as many people as I can rather than completely satisfying anyone, which usually leaves me feeling as though everyone is mildly disappointed in me. This presents itself everywhere from the scheduling of meetings, to the ministries where we focus our attention and energies, to what is included in the bulletins each week. But one of the biggest areas that brings about the most difficulty is the area of worship, in particular, special worship services like the yearly collaborative Lenten services.
I recognize that everyone has a favorite style of worship, I recognize that many of us have deeply held traditions and emotions concerning our worship and the must have pieces, and I also recognize that each of us are unique in our personal preferences and desires. Over the years when scheduling special worship services, we have tried to honor as many of these traditions and requests as possible and we are doing so once again this year. However, we will most assuredly not meet everyone’s expectations. I must tell you though, that if we come to worship expecting something for ourselves, then we are missing the point all together. Worship is a time when we are to come together to give back to the God who has given all for us – and frankly our preferences shouldn’t matter. Francis Chan tells a story of a time when a patron of his church met him after the service and began to tell him everything about the service that he didn’t like. Francis simply responded by saying (paraphrased) “That’s Ok, we weren’t worshipping you”. The fact is, we aren’t supposed to be the object of worship. I believe that our God desires a pure worship where people from different walks of life, where people of different heritages and cultures, are willing to sacrifice their individual desires so that He may be glorified and praised. I believe that God celebrates when we do more than grin and bear it, but instead we joyfully accept and participate in a worship experience that simply is not in our sweet spot. I believe that God rejoices when we leave our worldly expectations at the door and fully surrender ourselves to Him.
Pastor Marla reminded me this week that Easter is the church’s Super Bowl. What this means is that Easter Sunday is the most important day of the year. Without the events of Easter Sunday, we would have nothing to celebrate because Jesus would have been nothing more than a good moral man. Yet it is because of Easter Sunday that we know the power of God, through Jesus Christ, gives us forgiveness and redemption for our sins and assures us that eternal life is a gift that we will receive. Assuredly, there will be something about this year’s Lenten/Easter services that we will mess up, forget, or change. There will be moments when we will be challenged because the nostalgic feelings of the past are not there or the excitement level of something new is not meeting our expectations. There will be those who love everything about the services and those who don’t and that’s ok. I have but one hope and request for our congregation this year: May we all praise and celebrate the risen Christ – for He alone is worthy! If we do this, then we will put a smile on God’s face and know that we glorified His Holy name.