I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Christians say that they don’t need to go to church. That going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. I believe that corporate worship is crucial and necessary to spiritual growth. But this post is not going to debate that topic. I just want to share my experience at my church this morning.
I woke up with a heavy heart, this being the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I made a deliberate decision not to be sad today, because we are a country of fighters. So I searched for the brightest, cheeriest item of clothing in my closet to wear to church – a pink sequined top. Maybe the pink disco ball look is not 100% appropriate for church, but it made me happy.
We went first to Sunday School, where I was filling in for the preschool teacher who was out of town. The morning started with worship, and just singing those three or four songs really stirred my heart. We sang a song that I hadn’t sung or heard in a long time – Step by Step by Rich Mullins. This is a personal favorite of mine, and it was on the cd we gave out as favors at our wedding almost ten years ago. It brought back happy memories. I walked out of the room feeling filled with the Holy Spirit, ready to pour it out to the students in my class.
I had three students in my Sunday School class – all boys, ages three or four. We read the story of how the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to bring him news from God that his and
’s prayers for a baby would be answered, and they would have a son (John). The boys loved when I made a “shoop” sound and zipped my lips to show that Gabriel took away Zacharias’s speech when he didn’t believe the angel’s message. When we reviewed the story the boys were able to repeat to me most of the important facts, and their excitement filled my heart. Elizabeth
Church began with more worship – our Praise Band plays twice a month during the main worship service. The songs were meaningful, and the instruments so effective at conveying the power of the lyrics. There was a short electric guitar solo that stung my heart; the piano was beautiful in its simplicity; the shimmer of the cymbals pretty and effective; and the violin – my favorite instrument of all – pulled at my heartstrings.
Our pastor preached on 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, about being comforted in our sufferings. About our church reaching out to show mercy and compassion to our community. About being confident in the comfort of a God who raises the dead. It was powerful, passionate, convicting.
And so I left church full. Full of worship. Full of God’s Word. Full of the Spirit who will remind me this week of the conviction I felt today. Who will prompt me to rethink my lack of mercy on others. Who will comfort me in my day-to-day afflictions.
The ironic thing, though, is that I walked out of church full. I don’t go to church to take. I go to church to give – to worship, to praise, to honor, to thank, to adore – I should walk out empty. But that’s how good our God is, and that’s how much He loves us, that He doesn’t leave us empty. And that reminds me of today’s Children’s Message. When Jesus is in our hearts, our hearts cannot be empty ever again. That hole gets forever sealed.
Full to overflowing. Thank you, Jesus.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.