Sunday morning - 10am.
My alarm goes off.
I rub the tired out of my eyes and get out of my warm bed.
I brush my teeth and proceed to get in my Sunday best, the way Mom had raised me to.
I drink the last sip of coffee from my mug, throw on my shoes and look out the window.
It's a gloomy day with cold rain pouring down without a moments rest. I grab my rain coat and walk out the door.
I turn on my favorite worship playlist. It's in this moment every Sunday that I try and prepare my heart and mind for worship. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I'm still half asleep. Regardless, It's my thing.
I pull into the full parking lot, this is where the enemy starts his attack. I'm tempted to get angry at the lack of parking spaces, the pedestrians taking their time, the thought of walking a long distance in this rain. I shake it off and begin my walk to the front doors of the sanctuary.
I trudge through the slush of snow left from days past, while the droplets of water topple down on the hood of my coat. It's in this moment that my heart has peace. The enemy attacked. But peace triumphs frustration on this serene morning.
As I enter the sanctuary, a warm rush of air hits my face, it's a relief from the cold. It's a reminder that I am welcome in this place.
Immediately, people are everywhere, from every stage of life. children. elderly. middle aged. college kids. black. white. rich. poor. The diversity isn't apparent until you take a good hard look around. It's something that drew me this place of worship in the first place.
I walk from the narthex to the sanctuary doors. An elderly usher hands me a bulletin and exclaims, "Good morning!" I nod my head, give a smirk and walk quietly to my usual seat.
I see friends and strangers all sitting mixed together. I embrace friends and give my "hello's" before worship begins.
Worship begins. You can hear the hymnal pages turning. Organ blaring loud.
Hymns. Something I wasn't very fond of when first coming to this church. I was used to my Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin. Hymns were out of the comfort zone I had built up. I just didn't feel anything when I sang hymns. This almost deterred me from attending this church. Something as little as the type of songs we sang almost ran me out of the most welcoming church I had walked into since I moved to Kentucky, I chuckle at the thought today.
I'm certain God also found it amusing when He realized my "dilemma." He continued to work in my heart and challenged me to look at the core of the church, not just one part of the body. Today, I love singing hymns.
The church, after all, is made up of many parts. We may favor our right hands, but our left hand has worth of its own. The choir director picks hymns that he believes will uplift and encourage us. He has worth. He has gifts.
The service continues with the Lords prayer, tithes and offering, more hymns, responsive readings, and then the sermon.
The pastor is someone I've come to respect. The way he articulates himself and brings the gospel truth into the theme of his message always floors me. It's almost like clockwork that the last 10 minutes of his messages bring the heat. In this 10 minutes he wraps his entire 30 minute message into one huge serving of spiritual truth that nourishes the soul. This sunday was no different. I nod my head in agreement with his words. My heart literally rejoices in hearing truth. You know the feeling. The feeling where you know without a doubt that the truth being told to you is good for your soul. Your soul literally leaps and sings inside of you. It cannot be described any other way than a true blessing.
After the sermon ends, the ushers and elders come forward to pass out communion. It's in this moment each sunday that I stop and reflect on my character, who I am as a Christian man. I reflect on what Christ did for me. I reflect on my sins. In this moment I look up and I see a room full of sinners, sinners that Christ paid the ultimate price for. In this diverse room filled with people of all ages and all races, we are all the same children of God. We are the same body of Christ.
As communion comes and goes, we are met with the benediction, and in turn, the end of corporate worship.
People stand up and gather their coats, bibles, bulletins, etc.
I just sit there observing. I look at the church. Not the building. The body of Christ. The people who are quietly getting up and heading to the exits. In this moment, it's just me. My heart is full and I am ready for whatever type of week I am handed. It's hard for me not to think to myself "I want everyone to have this. I want everyone to experience this."
This is why I support going to church. This is why I will encourage friends, relatives, co-workers, even strangers to attend church. Do I believe that church isn't for everyone? For a season, yes, some people may benefit from time away. Some seasons last longer than others. It is my opinion, however, that when you find the right church and plug yourself into that community, you will be filled up and sustain a healthy spiritual journey. Is church limited to sunday mornings? Absolutely not. Is church the only way you can spiritually "fill up" as some would call it? Absolutely not. I believe It merely is one of the easiest ways to access community, servant-hood, worship, biblical knowledge, etc.
The longest I've gone without church is two years. In those two years I was at the lowest spiritual point in my life. So, from my own personal journey, this is why I cherish church. It works for me. I know the bible urges us to involve ourselves in church and community, so I work at it. Yes, you heard me, sometimes church is work. But at the end of the day, it's rewarding, like most things we work for.
I will also say this.
Church is not limited to a building, nor is it limited to worship and a 30 minute sermon. WE are the church. We work. We help. We build. We do life. We are the body.
In my own personal experience, my whole 25 years of life, I am convinced that sunday morning worship (full of sinners who make mistakes, like myself) and living out the body of Christ in my everyday life is exactly what was intended. It was the dream. It was the bigger picture that Christ gave to the apostles. It's not limited. It's meant to flourish together as a working unit of many members.
It's a matter of spiritual well-being. It's worth discussing. It's worth praying about.
I urge everyone who reads this to take a moment and survey your heart. Are you a sunday morning, coffee toting, bible thumper who raises his hand in worship -- then walks out the door and lives a selfish life against the body of Christ? Or maybe you're the non-church goer. You have survived this long on your own. You don't need corporate worship. Things are fine. You find your quiet times, you know the verses, you find your community in your own way. Is it enough? Are you spiritually satisfied? Are you accountable to your moods, your thoughts, your ideals? Is there discipline? Are you lonely?
We need each other.
Let's be everything that Christ knows we can be and do it in a way that glorifies His name.