Why we worship

Published 12:25 pm Saturday, September 24, 2016

by Andrew Book

At Courtland United Methodist Chruch, we are in the midst of a series on the “Large Rocks” or important things that we need to include in life. We have a number of great topics that we are looking at such as work, relationships and service. This Sunday, my wife Joy (who is trained as both a pastor and a professional counselor) will be talking about maturity and making personal growth a large rock in our lives.
I am excited to hear what she is going to say, but you will have to join us in worship if you want to hear that one! The Large Rock that I am going to focus on in this column is the rock of worship, mainly because worship has fallen out of favor with many people.
As a pastor, I am often on the receiving end of why people are not in worship. Honestly, if you see me in the store, at school, or elsewhere in the community, you really don’t need to tell me why you have not been in worship.
I’m not looking for an explanation when I say “hello” — I’m actually, genuinely, glad to see you and catch up. We all have to make decisions about whether being part of a Sunday worship is a large rock for us, and I cannot make that decision for you.
That said, I think worship matters. A lot. We live in a world that encourages us to focus on what we can accomplish, what we can get for ourselves, and what we can gain from the people and companies around us. It is easy to go through a week completely focused on ourselves (and our families for those who have children!).
If we need something done, we do it or find someone who will. If we have a problem, we find a solution. If we have questions, we find answers. We live life, most days, with the understanding that if something needs doing, we need to get it done ourselves.
Worship is the exact opposite. When we stop to worship God — regardless of whether it is a moment’s pause to thank God for the beauty of the rising sun or an hour or two at a worship service — we are doing something profoundly counter-cultural. We are declaring that there are things we can’t do — and yet God has done them and we need to thank and praise God for what God has done.
When we worship we declare that we are not the center of any world — not even our own. Worship takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them on God and, as a result, worship helps us to live the rest of life looking out instead of in.
To be clear, I have met plenty of self-centered people who attend worship services (though I question whether they worship God there!) and selfless people who are allergic to church, but by and large the people I know who truly take time to worship God are the kind of people that I want to be like. They are not caught up in their own world. They recognize that their struggles are only a part of the picture and work to care for and love the people around them. They recognize the gifts and blessings they have and are thankful for what they do have rather than obsessing over what they want.
Truly worshipping gives you perspective on life that you cannot get anywhere else, which is why I think we all need to make space in life for worship — both small moments each day as well as time at least once a week for a focused time of worship.
No matter how good (or bad) a preacher is, the power of being a worshipper is in worship’s ability to get you outside of yourself and focused on God. I hope you will take time to worship. Right now, as you finish reading this column, is a great opportunity to pause and thank God for the blessings you have in your life.
Then, take a moment to consider what you do with your time on Sunday mornings (or whenever your faith community worships). Are your priorities right? Look at the reasons you have for missing or choosing not to be a part of a worshipping community. Are they valid?
In the end, the only way change happens in your life is if you decide worship needs to be a large rock in your life.
You have to make the decision and make the changes! If you need a community to gather with, we would love to have you join us at Courtland United Methodist Church Sundays at 11 a.m. Be a worshipper. It will change you!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or andrew@courtlandumcva.org.