Thankfully, I get a Sunday off from preaching this week. Intern Paul Gustafson will bring a message. I look forward to hearing, not the "quality" of his preaching, but to being confronted and convicted, myself, by God's powerful and unrelenting Word.
As we move into December we will bear from John the Baptist who preached "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin" (Mark 1:4). Do we remember that's what worship is always supposed to do? Do our every Sunday habits of worship and Bible reading focus enough on the need for continual conversion? Do we come to church expecting to be changed?
Any time we are addressed by God's word something should happen. Something should happen in each person who hears. We should feel uncomfortable. We should be convicted of our sin. We should hear God's amazing word of forgiveness. We should be thankful. We should be changed.
Worship is intended to bring about change. I encourage you to do whatever is needed to make that happen. Study the scriptures in the days or hours or minutes before worship. Pay attention to what goes on in worship and, if it helps, take notes. If you'll do that, you'll be a great example for our youth -- young disciples in training.
Thanks to Pastor Steve King (see www.commonconfession.net) we've had more interesting ways of helping our youth pay attention during church since the fall of 2007. I've adapted about 20 of Steve's various worship note sheets and our Grade 7-9 have turned in an average of four each this fall. Sometimes they ask great questions and I try to get back to them with answers. We're trying to make that process go better and quicker this year.
Youth are asked to pay attention to lots of things, including the sermon. Our hope and belief is that as youth and adults pay attention, the Word of God will make a difference in their lives.
This morning at men's Bible study we spent a good deal of time talking worship. Specifically, we discussed the Lord's Supper and the command to "examine yourselves" and only then go to the Lord's Table (First Corinthians 15:29). We talked about how tempting it is to just go through the motions instead of allowing God to break our heart with his Word. We always remember the promise of forgiveness, but do we remember our need for repentance?
Tomorrow, and every Sunday, come to church ready to recognize your sin and your rebellion against God. When we do so, we know that Jesus died in place of each and every one of us as individuals, that our own personal sin caused our Lord to die. And then, out of gratitude, we allow our Lord to make the changes that are needed in our everyday lives.
See you in church!