Last Sunday was remarkable in so many different ways. Attendance was robust. Our Show Up and Sing galvanized our praise from the first note of the first hymn. Ten new members joined, sharing their stories. And another ten are in the wings.
Most remarkable was Gary Morello’s convincing and riveting presentation of his Ordination Paper. You could have heard a pin drop. A layman serving with me on the Committee on Ministry (who oversees this process) had never met Gary. He could hardly believe it. He described Gary as a force of nature. He asked why aren’t we doing everything we can to attract and retain such leaders as our Gary. The Wilton pastor wrote, “what occurred yesterday gives me hope for the future.”
Did you see how seamlessly fluent Gary was, never even glancing at his paper? I was tempted to ask Gary’s examiners in attendance, “Could any of you do that?” We now look ahead to his ordination on 12 November 2017 at 3 pm here at FCC.
But something else remarkable happened. I preached on attending worship as a spiritual building block for our faith and character and to strengthen FCC. I invited your greater commitment by pledging, “if we’re in town and everyone is well, we’ll do our level best to be in worship and to bring our children.” Remarkably, no less than 83 households of individuals, couples, families signed on to this covenant. Do you know what deeper commitment does to build the dynamism of a church?
Let’s break that down and interpret what that means in our daily lives. I liken it to my battle to get to the gym, ice rink or pool to work out. It’s not easy! I know what my most cherished and protected excuses are. So what are yours for worship?
- Sunday is my only day to sleep in. I accept that I serve a hard-working congregation. But Sunday is when God raised Jesus from the dead. Truly, compared to that act on our behalf, getting here by 10 am isn’t strenuous.
- I don’t need to attend to be faithful. Some say they worship God as well on a golf course. But let’s get real. The basic unit of our faith is community and not the individual. Without each other, we quickly wear down. Spiritual slippage is real, even if it is mostly invisible. We all need to attend worship.
- I don’t get anything out of it. Not every sermon interests everyone. But we are not here to cater to your needs. We are here to proclaim the true and living God. Consumerism will kill a church. In this narcissistic world, going somewhere where it’s all about God, not you, is what will save you.
- I have been feeling down lately. As I feel down, I confess, I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. Sometimes I am teary singing a poignant hymn. But church is a place for all seasons of life. That is why we have both joys and concerns. Despite wearing our Sunday best, worship is where we experience the whole truth of who we are without editing. We won’t inflict phony cheer or say it’s not that bad. We’ll come alongside you to rejoice in your blessings and share in your sorrows. That is real healing.