This sounded so familiar to me...I believe I have read this article before on Facebook and it struck me then just as it did now, hearing our pastor quoting some of the key points:
"God changed my life using routine worship services in which I sang hymns I didn’t quite understand and heard messages I didn’t quite grasp."
"This repetition built in my heart a deep reservoir of theology. And now, as a husband and father and pastor, whenever I stand and sing these hymns, I can barely contain myself. At times I cannot sing; I can only weep. Some choruses evoke memories: My father serves communion while “Jesus Keep Me near the Cross” plays faintly in the background. Dad fights back tears as we sing “Jesus Paid It All.”
"These rituals train our hearts. We sing to ourselves songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. We hear the same gospel preached to us, over and over again. We lift the cup to our lips and the bread to our tongues remembering, again, our place at the King’s table. Through these practices, God takes our hearts and seals them for his courts above, to paraphrase another hymn writer, Robert Robinson."
"When I think back on the simple routines—the liturgies—that changed my life, I’m encouraged in my own pastoral role. I’m reminded afresh that the work of ministry is not so much about finding new, tantalizing ways to make people excited about Jesus, but about the timeless rituals that shape their hearts...
Because somewhere in your congregation are children singing words they don’t know, listening to Scripture they don’t understand, and fighting sleep during a sermon that doesn’t hold their interest. They don’t realize it yet, but the Spirit of God is pressing the gospel message, through yet another “boring” church service, deep within their hearts."
I guess the reason this article touched my heart when I first read it, and then again in hearing our Pastor expound upon it is because I grew up in a church that followed a certain liturgy and ritual each Sunday, and even though as a child I didn't quite understand everything that was being said or prayed, or the songs that we sang...they were teaching me nonetheless. The words were seeping into my heart and planting seeds that took root and grew and developed as I matured into a young woman seeking God in my life. When the time came that I was confronted with my own sinfulness and recognized in myself to be in need of a Savior, the words, prayers, and songs of the formative years found a home in my heart, and the Lord opened my eyes to understand His truth and purpose for my life. And it is interesting that in the ensuing years I not only embraced Jesus Christ as my Savior and King, but He also found many ways to use my life to serve Him in His church and kingdom. I can honestly say along with the author of the above article:
- God is empowering us...He wants to use us
- God is alive...He is working...He wants you to know Him on a personal level.
- The church needs to be honest and sincere about what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ in today's world.
- What are we doing?
- Can we do it better?
- Where do we fall short?
- We live in a secular time...but that is not a reason to give up, but a reason to get up and get going to share the Gospel.
- We need to BE the Church of Jesus Christ...We need to LIVE the church of Jesus Christ
- Jesus is the ONLY hope this world has.
- The church is not the building...You are the church. We are the church.
- This is our place at the King's table...what are we going to do about the world beating on our door?