How long have you been going to church? For some of you, it has been all your life. For others, it might be a new experience.
The difficulty with doing something regularly is we might be distracted away from the very reason we do something. We need to eat every day to nourish our bodies. We have been taught the healthy eating habits. We know the good foods. And yet we don’t eat like we are supposed to, we eat things that are not good for us. We eat too much of what is not. Instead of eating for nutrition and health we eat for comfort, we eat for pleasure we eat too much of the wrong things. Even something as foundational as eating to sustain us can be unhealthy.
Our life in worship can be the same. People go to church for all kinds of reasons. Some go because mom or dad make them, some go out of habit, some go for social interaction, or because of the programs or out of guilt. Some because they need the strength and nourishment that only Jesus’ life death and resurrection can give.
Have you ever thought about why you go or don’t go? The season of Lent is quickly upon us. Lent helps us see why worship, more importantly, what happens in worship is fundamental to our Christian life.
In the Ash Wednesday service, we are placed face to face with our sin. You stand before the pastor as he takes his thumb and traces a black cross on your forehead and says, “from dust you came and to dust you shall return”. How’s that for a reality check! On Ash Wednesday we are reminded without any doubt we are sinners, sinners who have no excuses and will die because of the sin of Adam and Even handed down to us, and our very own unwillingness to keep God’s law. Your sin of thought, word, and deed will kill you. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. That is the primary reason we gather in worship.
Lent refocuses us to see what is of most importance in worship. Our sin will kill us! In every Divine Service, we bring with us the evidence we are sinners. Thoughts that have gone into the dark hidden places where a child of God should not dwell. Words that have no good intent, they only serve to make the rumor juicier or tear down my neighbor. Deeds that are completely selfish and self-serving. The evidence is overwhelming that I am a sinner.
Worship is the place where God meets us with the cure for our curse. The reason we go to worship is because I am a sinner that will die for my sin if someone does not forgive me. Worship is where Jesus meets me with the cure for my curse, the hope for my hopelessness and the salvation for my soul. Every week in Worship Jesus meets me with His holy absolution. Every week He preaches His words of pardon and peace into our ears through the pastor. Every week He sets a wedding feast for us at His house and at His altar to be with us. Take and eat, take and drink, for you, for your forgiveness. That is the central reason we gather in worship, to receive Jesus and His promises to us.
On Ash Wednesday our sins are traced on our forehead with the ash of last year’s palm branches. We are sinners that is clear. That simple act reminds us why worship is important. Apart from Christ we have no hope, no forgiveness, and no salvation. In each Divine Service we hear good Gospel news. Jesus died your death. Jesus paid your price. Jesus blood cured your curse and has made you holy.
Gathering in Worship every week is repetitive, no doubt. If you can find a week that you don’t sin in thought word and deed, feel free to opt out of worship. Until then, come and receive the greatest Good news ever. Jesus died for you. Jesus loves you. Jesus on the cross, in the grave, out of the tomb and giving His words of hope and promise to you.
You are a sinner, but you have a mighty Savior who has redeemed you and wants to forgive you and remind you of who you are because of Him.
This is why we go.