Reading time: two minutes.
Just a thought on worship as we start a new year.
For 24 of my 30 years in parish ministry, I supervised field education students from the St Louis seminary. Typically, after their first Sunday assisting in the chancel, they’d ask, “How’d I do?” I eventually began to respond, “I don’t know. Did you sing to Jesus?”
For those who lead worship, it’s an occupational hazard to lead God’s people in worship on Sunday (often numerous times) without ever having worshipped the Lord. It’s not automatic as we’re so tangled up in cueing the organist and sitting and standing in all the right places, not to mention getting the sermon notes organized in the head and the heart.
Have you read Psalm 84 lately? In recent years, it’s becoming a favorite of mine.
Since I’m not preaching as often these days, I’ve committed to praying for pastors every Sunday from 5-6:00 am. I use a number of scriptures or prayer books as an outline, but my fall back prayer guide for the hour has become Psalm 84.
“How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord!” I pray that every pastor would have a soul that “Yearns for the courts of the Lord,” and a spirit that calls out to the living God. It’s hard to lead worship without it.
When people asked our times of service, I’d sometimes mention our 6:00 am service, but explain that usually only me and God were there. Those quiet moments of worship alone with the Lord often (almost always?) set the tone for the rest of our time together on Sundays.
It was my best hour of the week, and in a way, it was the best hour of the week for those who weren’t there also as their pastor’s heart was prepared for worship. Verse 4: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising You.” I always considered the other two services to be people wandering in to join me and the angels in a service that had started hours before. “I’m blessed! Come on in! Be blessed, too!”
I’m praying that the angel songs of Christmas stay with you all year.
I’d also be curious to hear from you about your preparation for worship each week to. Do you have a regular discipline? A favorite prayer or song?
On Sundays, my prayer for you is that you would leave the sanctuary sometime after morning worship, close and lock the door behind you, and sigh a deep sigh that sounds a little like, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (v. 10).
I don’t know about the thousand, but it can sure change the next six!
Thanks for reading.
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