On Sunday, Letha and I had the opportunity to visit a small church in a small town. We were taking a few days away for rest and decided to worship in a completely different environment. It was a refreshing change.
The service was formal and fairly liturgical. There were about 60 people present. The pastor wore a very nice cleric’s robe, we sang all hymns (six of them!), the only musical accompaniment was a small pipe organ and we prayed from a pre-selected liturgy. The pastor preached an excellent message from Matthew 20 about the parable of the laborers. His main point was: many times we think that God is not fair because He does not give us what we deserve. If we think we deserve more than what we have been given, this reveals that we truly have no idea about fairness. We should thank God that He doesn’t treat us “fairly”, or else, we would be in big trouble with Him. I was ministered to by the message.
As we sat there and joined in the praise, I was ashamed of our arrogance, assuming that we know it all and presuming that our way is better. I thought about our church back home and how our services are so different (not better, just different). I thought about how many times we turn up our noses when someone dares to do things differently than we are accustomed to. I was humbled by the sincerity of the pastor, the worshippers and this great worship service. The experience will stay with me.
I found myself well able to worship God in that setting. We should be able to focus on God when things are different. When they don’t sing “our songs” or preach it the way we like it, we should be able to worship God nonetheless. Substance must supersede style.
I will be glad to be back home this Sunday, but a little part of me wants to wear a robe – and I don’t even own a bath robe!