Jump Start # 2501
Psalms 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
Worship is a wonderful blessing that we get to engage in every day. We worship the Lord by ourselves and we worship the Lord when the church assembles. Worship has a way of dusting out the cobwebs of our minds and rearranging the important things in life. We need worship. It honors God and it is beneficial to us.
More and more are wanting to worship less. Let’s hurry through it seems to the spirit of some. You’d think that they have something more important to do than to praise God, and sadly, to them, they probably do. Convenience seems to be the main concern that folks have these days. Let’s make worship as easy on us as possible. I’ve never been a fan of that spirit and recently read something that most today just couldn’t stomach very much.
I’ve been reading a journal called, “Tennessee Baptist History.” Now, you are probably thinking, “Get a life, Roger. Why would anyone read something that dry and dull.” Actually I am very passionate about religious history and love reading anything about that.
So here is the pattern of worship for the Nashville Baptist church in 1828. Remember, travel was a lot harder back then and the roads weren’t the best.
“The pattern of Sunday worship included meeting at sunrise for prayer, praise, and reading of Scriptures. At 10:30 am they met for instruction and prayer. At 3:00 pm they cam together to break bread and take up the collection. At 7:00 pm they read a passage of Scripture and several commented upon it” (Tennessee Baptist History, Vol 18, No. 1, pg 96).
From that, it looks like that those Nashville Baptists gathered together four times on a Sunday. That’s amazing to me. I know if I were to pitch this schedule to folks today, it’d be shot down before I even finished. Gathering at sunrise? Are you kidding? Coming together four times in one day? No, way.
Now some thoughts from all of this:
First, the number of times one assembles is not a barometer of how spiritual one is. Church services alone does not mean one is spiritual. Some can be in the church building but are sleeping, playing with their phones or day dreaming. Assembling once or ten times doesn’t make one spiritual. It’s what is going on inside of that person that makes all the difference.
Second, times have changed. Worship doesn’t change and our need to assemble doesn’t change, but our world is busier and more fast paced than ever before. The number of times we assemble ought to be thought out by the shepherds and determined based upon the needs of the congregation. A younger in faith congregation may need to meet more than a mature congregation. In 1828 folks probably went to bed at sunset. Getting up at sunrise, and even before, was necessary to get a fire going in the stove, milk the cows and many other things that we do not do today.
Even within a generation, times and situations change. Sharp leaders recognize these things and see these things and makes adjustments to schedules that will benefit the congregation. Worship ought to help us, and not be a burden or become a duty that one is compelled to keep.
Third, with modern media and technology, there are ways to connect, encourage and keep the congregation going without always getting together. We have more Bible tools at our fingertips than most of the preachers did in those early 1800’s. We can be better informed, more knowledgeable, and capable of reaching more, faster than ever before. Through copy machines, Facebook, videos, the message of Christ can be spread world wide, very rapidly and very economically. Letter writing was about the only form of communication in the early 1800’s. To print something was expensive. Many congregations did not have a preacher. One traveled from church to church. Those in-between-the-preacher times were often pitiful and painful. It’s not that way today. Every day of the week we can listen or watch a sermon because of the internet.
Fourth, the benefits of worship remain the same. Worship praises God and it builds up our hearts. Through worship our doubts and worries are chased away. Our questions are answered. Our faith is made stronger. Hope seems real and close. And, the word of God remains unchanged. As I write these words, I hear an airplane flying over. The sounds of cars traveling down the street can be heard. I write on a laptop, will send this out via email. So many changes since the 1820’s, but that same saving message hasn’t changed. The nature of man hasn’t changed. What most of us think about hasn’t changed. And, what we need hasn’t changed.
How we worship, how we build a church, how we lead others to Christ, how we shepherd God’s people, none of those things have changed. In the 1820’s one would find a big pot belly stove that heated the church buildings. Not today. Back then, one would find a hitching post out front so people could tie up their horses. Not today. And, today, with mics, powerpoint, computers, livestreaming, we are flying at lightning speed, yet some things never change. Some things must never change. Knowing what can change and what must never change is a vital lesson that all should understand.
I was glad when they said let us go to the house of the Lord. That’s our verse. That’s our spirit. That’s our heart. Rather than, “Do I have to go,” it’s “We get to go.” What a blessing and what an honor that God wants us to worship Him.
You get the most out of worship when you put the most into it. Pour your heart, your soul, and your mind into worship and you’ll feel like you can almost hold out your arm and touch the face of God.