Small moments…Big gains
One day I watched a small boy race across a grassy space in front of me. He called out in his loudest voice, "Sam! Sam! Stop! Turn around! Come to me, Sam!" A short-legged little brown dog for a few seconds was outrunning his master; and, not until the boy gave it all he had was he able to overtake his pet. He scooped the dog into his arms and held him tight. He lovingly cradled Sam and talked to him softly as he made his way home.
Not such a remarkable scene, you might say. But something in it touched me. The little guy called Sam by name; he beckoned for Sam to remember who it was calling him; and he said, "Come." And when he finally caught his pup, he didn't scold him; rather, he talked softly to him about going home. There was an unmistakable loving relationship there.
The entire rescue effort was for me a sweet metaphor for how God calls us to church each week. We sometimes prefer to "escape," have our freedom, as Sam did. But God continues to call us by name, to beckon us to come. And when we respond and we gather together for worship, we do so knowing that the One who holds the whole world in his hands also holds us lovingly.
God calls us to be in relationship with him and with each other. In worship, we strive to do just that: we give God praise and honor, confess our sins and receive assurance of our pardon, hear God's Word read and proclaimed, affirm our faith by reciting a creed, pray for the world as well as for ourselves and one another, and give back to God a portion of the gifts we have received. We sing hymns and we greet one another in Christian fellowship.
Sunday worship is a time of amazing grace. It is a time that renews our hope in a world that again and again sends us reeling into confusion and disappointment. In worship, we lean into a different kind of reality. We step, blessedly, into that kingdom that God has revealed in Jesus Christ. In Christ, through the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit, we can leave our time of worship with hearts renewed to do the work God calls us to do in his kingdom. We can go forth with our relationship to God and to one another strengthened.
"We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord…and they'll know we are Christians by our love," says a beautiful hymn. God is calling to us: "Come to me!" When God gathers us in worship, we receive the invitation to dwell in his divine love for a little while and then to take that love into the hurting world around us to offer healing in Christ's name.