This coming Sunday, July 16th, 10:30am at the Rochester Ice Arena, our community will Gather together to seek and worship our Savior and King, Jesus Christ. We will experience the nearness and ministry of the Holy Spirit, through fellowship with one another, in prayer, in teaching, in sacrament and in song. We will endeavor, by these simple, familiar means, to submit our hearts and lives to be more closely attuned to the frequencies of God's holy love and eternal purposes in the world. We will draw near, sing, and surrender ourselves ever more completely to his transforming power and calling over our lives. Indeed, I've said it before: since Easter morning, there has never been an ordinary Sunday!
If this is a true assessment of the nature and purpose of Christian worship - and I believe it is! - it causes me to wonder that we so rarely, genuinely appreciate thecompelling power of that reality. I've speculated before that our experience of Sunday worship often suffers from the disregard of familiarity. And, where theAmerican church CAN reliably muster enthusiasm and a sense of energy around a particular gathering, it often has more to do with the perceived caliber of theculturally-attuned spiritual-consumer experience than anything else. Now I am, admittedly, a bit of a cynic by nature. But how often can it be said that we have left the place of worship, having not merely been entertained or programmatically satisfied but - as with the disciples on the Emmaus road - with our hearts "burning within us" with the nearness, love and conviction of the Spirit of Christ?
Pondering further, though, it does strike me that the general dullness of our spiritual senses is perhaps not ONLY because the means are so familiar and our orientation so consumer-centric, but that we have also become acculturated to a modern western worldview that assumes - practically, if not explicitly - that the soul is actually irrelevant to "real" life. As church-going folk we'd probably not CLAIM to believe this, but I wonder if it is more often than not the case that we LIVE as if we believe it; singing the name of Jesus on Sunday (when it's convenient), but living Monday-Saturday on our own authority and under our own power. And if this is the posture we have accepted from our culture, even into our churches, is it any wonder that we know and experience so little transforming power in our lives and worship? Dale Keuhne puts it this way:
"What (our world) and a staggering number of Christians have lost sight of is thespiritual dimension of human existence. Since the Enlightenment, the majority position has been that human beings are creatures who are merely mind and body... the notion of the soul... has been lost in the modern world... It is ironic that so many churches, in an effort to show themselves acceptably rational to the modern world, developed a sort of amnesia about the spiritual component of human experience - the very source of its existence and relevance."
In my estimation, it is high time for the Church of Jesus Christ to reclaim the LIVING belief in the transforming, enlivening power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ! My prayer for us is that the Holy Spirit would instigate a breakthrough of revival in the hearts of His people; branding our hearts with the convicting, life-giving nearness of Christ, and unleashing us on mission in this, His world. Will you join me in that prayer? Will you join US, as we come together in the sacred space of a community gathered for worship, this Sunday, as we pursue such ends together? The Spirit and power of God is near to his children; immanent, accessible and graciously given if we will be but faithful to ask, seek, knock; kneeling in surrender and in praise. Sunday's coming. Are you?
Asking, Seeking, Knocking;