As is often the case on days with names ending in “y”, there is a bit of “new” debate floating about in church circles this month (or at least on the web-sites/blogs I read).  It is a debate about.. the importance of and future of “worship” in the church.

It is, of course, obvious that if this debate is decided only by our attendance figures, it would be easy to argue that public worship is becoming the dinosaur of the now long past age of Christendom (the days when both the majority of governments & people claimed Christian commitment).  For indeed just about every church (even the “Evangelicals”) report lower & lower numbers of folks showing up with the old kind of regularity to the Sunday morning thing.

This being why it is that we clergy types have (with some desperation) been casting about for something new to “catch” people’s attention &/or justify our place in the world.  The most recent emphasis/effort being (as you may have noticed) an extra-intense push to “service”:  the encouragement to give ourselves to and reinvigorate our work for justice and more tangible compassion in our world.  And thus it is that it has become pretty regular for many churches to have soup kitchens or used clothing stores (and the like) as part of their mission/building along with a myriad of weekly requests from the various area ministries needing volunteers.  The belief being that people are hungering to “make a dent” in things.. to do something “concrete”.. way more than to get together to simply “pray & sing”.

 Now don’t get me wrong.. there is no question that service is an absolutely critical part of who we are and of our calling to be God’s people IN THE WORLD.  There is no question that the Gospel that fills us and gives us life IS to overflow in love and caring work in our living outside the walls and community of “the church”.  This might even be especially true for us as Lutherans.

 At the same time though.. for there to be that “overflowing” at all there does first have to come a “filling up”!  And for better or worse.. for us.. the Sunday morning gathering of God’s people in communion and community - to hear the word and receive the grace of our sacramental life together - is still THE primary source of that (the intentional connection to & stirring of God in our hearts).  And so it is fair to wonder  what it is that fuels us for all that hard work when worship becomes as secondary a priority as it has.. what it is that moves us when we are not tapping as regularly into the singular power God’s grace has to invigorate us.  After all if our cars don’t go far without that intentional stop we HAVE TO make to refuel them and do the regular maintenance on them they need.. how do we expect our spirits to do it?

Now for sure.. it is possible to argue that most of us are busier these days “than we used to be”.  It certainly feels that way.  But as Luther himself is said to have said.. (& I paraphrase) “I am so busy today I can’t afford NOT TO take 3 hours for prayer first.”  Which is to say for him getting anything done for God & God’s people had to begin with his tapping into the grace of God FIRST.    Not that anyone needs to have someone nagging them about yet another thing (as in “attending church more often”).  And yet .. who are we without at least the occasional refueling of our spirits?  It really is essential to who we are and how grace works that we occasionally get back to the source .. reconnecting with God and God in each other .. so that we do have the strength, heart & spirit to serve in all the ways we are called to serve. 

Kind of worth thinking/talking about I think!?! 

How about you?  Is worship still one of your special reconnecting times with God?  If not… what is??  What fuels you???  And while we’re at it.. what else do you need?  What sorts of things could Bread of Life offer to you to fill you in the ways you need to be filled?  I really do want to know!!!

-       Pr. Stewart