March 7, 2021: 3rd Sunday in Lent

Let us pray: Dear Lord, how wonderful it is to be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth.  Not in our ideas about truth, but in Your Truth drawn directly from Your Holy Word. May we cherish this blessing and thereby receive many, many more such Divine gifts.  Amen


TEXT:  Psalm 122: 1: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’”

Dearly Beloved Worshippers of the One and Only Savior: 

          Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Introverts tend to be drained by people interaction.  So, they marshal their energy when in  a crowd.  Extroverts are energized by such interactions.  Was Christ an introvert or an extrovert?  Actually, He was both.  Think of those times when He “went off by Himself to pray.”  And then there were those times when He drew large crowds and embraced them.  Christ truly was: “all things to all people.”  Which means: He can relate to you.

          Increasingly there are Americans who identify themselves as Christian but don’t attend regular worship services.  Why?  I suppose it is because they want God in their corner on their own terms.  We should be saddened by this, as is Christ.  For they are depriving themselves of great blessings.  I don’t know any instance where Jesus neglected regular corporate worship.  But I do know of countless passages where we find Him worshipping in the local synagogue.  Think about that?  He’s the one who wrote the Scriptures.  They are all about Him and His plan for our salvation.  Did He go just to keep up appearances?  Did He attend to worship Himself?  No.  He went to keep the 3rd commandment in our place and to honor His Father and uplift those who were with Him.  Remember that Jesus said through David of old: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’”  If going to church brought Jesus joy, how can it not for you?


          Many people today think that liturgy and hymns are old-fashioned, outmoded, and out-of-touch with our modern lifestyle.  Well, most of liturgy is drawn directly from both Old and New Testament practices proscribed by God.  And God never goes out of style.  Liturgy literally means: service.  It does have sacrificial aspects where we serve God with prayers, hymns, confession, praise, and thanksgiving.  But primarily, liturgy is about GOD SERVING US!  He does so with the declaration that our sins are forgiven (absolution), the words of comfort, instruction and truth in the lessons, the sermon, and most especially in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper where He applies directly to our souls heavenly soul food, or Christ’s forgiveness for all sins.  These sacraments (holy things) are glorious!  They are God’s way of personalizing His love directly into our hearts.  Recall the passage from Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.”  Since God’s word and sacraments are the center of corporate worship, church is where we find Him with His grace.  Likewise, recall the passage: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!”  Searching for God’s empowerment over evil apart from regular worship flies in the face of all this.


          Just like “no man is an island unto himself” so no Christian is an island who survives all by themselves.  Sunday worship is a must!  David says as much in his words: “I was glad when they said, ‘Let US go into the house of the Lord!’”  Likewise, the writer of Hebrews: “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” 

          Here is where the introvert/extrovert thing comes into play.  Many of you would say that I’m an extrovert. You’d be wrong.  In reality I’m an introvert.  I enjoy time alone to think, ponder, plan, and learn.  I don’t come by being outgoing and extroverted naturally.  But God enables me to be so in order to upbuild you.  Every time we worship together He empowers me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace you—your fears, your hopes, your dreams, and your needs—and to do so through and with the Gospel—the fact that He loves us enough to forgive our sins each week through the transference of our pain to Christ where it died with Him on a cross.  That is the central theme of every Christian worship service.—God serves us with the best of the best.

          I’ll admit that such formal proceedings, as we have in our worship service, and the sometimes archaic wording in our hymns may strike people today as different and even odd.  That’s because our society has given up any sense  of formality.  We’re hip, slangy, focus more on our feelings than on ageless truths.  That strikes me as a bit superficial.  We need deep roots when it comes to our soul’s salvation.  Otherwise, when the hurricanes come and break off and strip the tree of faith bare, there is nothing left to grow back. 

          One final thought.  Trees that are clumped together in a grove have much less damage during powerful storms. They support each other and so they endure.  That’s a fact.  So it is with each of you.  Yes, the blessings of corporate, in person worship, are manifold.  And all Christians over the centuries ultimately have grasped this truth!  In fact, you’re living proof, as a faith-filled child of God, that they were right.  “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house  of the Lord!’”  Amen

THE peace of God which…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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