As I think of the disciplines of Lent to which Christians are called, the first one that comes to mind is worship. Maybe it’s because of the memories I have of my parents hauling me to mid-week services in addition to Sunday services when I was a kid. Maybe it has to do with Jesus’ quotation of His Father’s will in one of Lent’s annual scripture readings. “You shall worship the Lord your God!” Or maybe it’s the fact that during Lent, St. Andrew offers five weekly services, up one from the usual four.
Whatever the reason, I grew up in a world in which going to the church house and gathering for worship was something like breathing. We didn’t “decide” whether to go. Nor did we wonder if we really needed it. Thanks to Ann and John Hricko, worship was never presented as some sort of option for a Christian, and they were never afraid that if they made me go, I would rebel later. (Studies have actually shown that some do, but most don’t!) For those two members of the Greatest Generation, it was their duty to God in response to grace. The quality of the music or the length of service frankly had little to do with it. Not only was worship the center of the church’s life, it was the center of our life as a family. Trust me. It didn’t make our family perfect by any means. Far from it. But it did give us grace for all our imperfections and sins. And it reminded us that we were part of something bigger and better than anything in the world.
Imagine having parents who gave you everything, sacrificed for you, and loved you without fail, and then when they invited you back for a great meal and a wonderful family reunion in the house where you experienced all that nourishment and comfort and love, you blew them off, ignored the invite, and just didn’t show up. Then think about how God feels when the children He loves and for whom He gave everything are missing from His table because they ignored the invitation and didn’t join the family reunion and the chance to say “thanks…for everything!”
One of the other great things about worship during Lent, with its focus on the suffering and death of Jesus, is the stunning contrast it always creates with our celebration of Easter, when everything explodes with light and life and a great festival of our Lord’s victory and ours in Him. Worship during Lent and Holy Week makes the experience of Easter even better!
So, if in your heart you know that you’ve had a rather casual attitude about worship lately or your attendance at worship has been stinky, I invite you to double down on your commitment to worship the Lord your God who in Jesus loves you and gave you everything. Make it something like breathing in honor of the One who gave you every breath you’ll ever take. Then let’s pull out the stops as April begins and have a Holy Spirit party that will make the Son of God smile because His children have come home to eat His food, receive His gifts, celebrate with the family, and say “thanks… for everything!”
“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me the victory. This is my God, and I will and I will praise Him – my Father’s God, and I will exalt Him!” Exodus 15:2
The Lord be with you+
Love, in Christ,