It was simple to get up on Sunday mornings, worship at 8am, sit behind the Neimeyers, try to stay focused on worship enough not to annoy them, and then go to Sunday school. Sometimes we sang hymns, sometimes praise songs, but everything was printed in the bulletin. It was comfortable. I knew how to worship Jesus. It was at 8 am at Timothy. Hymnals were only for songs—occasionally. Everything I needed to know was in the bulletin, and some stories the pastor told helped me hear the Word better than others.
Whether we know it or not we all have a pattern in worship. As adults, most of us have lived through a couple different versions of services, but regardless, we get in a pattern. We get used to the church in which we live and breathe. If you don’t believe me, ask any college student who regularly attended worship. You will hear most of them comment, “None of the churches by my college are like my church back home.” Often we create worship as a habit or pattern in our lives, but it is also connected to a certain type of service. Then the question arises, “What is worship and why did God ask us to do it?”
My memories of my grandpas’ churches are interesting in comparison to my memories of my home church. In my Grandpa Hanke’s church we had to use the hymnal sometimes. The congregation was a lot more serious in worship. Grandpa Hanke had a real looking Jesus standing on his altar. We always sang, Go Tell It on the Mountain at Christmas. My Grandpa Schubkegel could walk to his church. He was very calm as a pastor and spoke quietly. My Grandpa Hanke was strong in the way he preached.
Grandpa Schubkegel started a mission church after he was retired. We used folding chairs in a random building and church didn’t feel like church.
My grandpas offered my first exposure to different kinds of worship. Sure, they were Lutheran churches, but not my Lutheran church. It is funny how we have a tendency to be comfortable only in the worship style we know.
After my dad came back to faith, he decided he no longer fit in the Lutheran church, so he began exploring other denominations. Honestly, I have to admit, I wanted to say, “This is not what I meant when I wanted you to come back to faith.” I wanted him in the church that was comfortable for me. At his new church, I was exposed to people speaking in tongues, and some other strange practices. They had no regular communion. I also remember when my Dad said to me, “You don’t have to be a Lutheran pastor.” That comment made me want to really delve into the concept of worship. How did God want me to worship? Did God care what denomination I was?
Out of all of that investigating, came a true, deep definition of worship. Worship is hearing from God and responding to Him. But often I was framing my worship around what was familiar. There is nothing wrong with the familiar. But often it can pull us away from the true focus of what worship is, and why God would ask us to worship and rest in Him. This weekend we will talk about what it means to worship Him. No matter what church you are in, you can have a different experience in worship, even within the same denomination. The importance of the worship is found in the discipline that God taught his disciples, and still teaches you and me. This weekend we dig into why worship and rest are important to us as humans, but even more as believers in Jesus.