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An Attitude of Gratitude in Worship

Heartland Worship

It was early one morning when she quickly made her way through the quiet streets of her city, the street vendors slowly coming to life as she wove her way through the mostly empty streets. Her heart was filled with sweet anticipation and reserved fear. When she reached the small apartment she looked over her shoulder to make sure no one was around and then she knocked. She was quietly ushered into a small room already filled with the people she had come to love. The blinds were closed. The group met in secret to worship their God. No hymns were sung and no loud noises were made. The group only spoke and prayed in whispered tones. Everyone there was well aware of the risk associated with drawing attention to their worship and their faith. As the group of 10 began to worship that morning there was a feeling of humble gratitude for the opportunity to worship in that stuffy apartment.

Halfway around the world a man waited for a taxi on the busy streets of his city. He had to turn several down before he spotted the right one. The taxi pulled over without notice. A single taxi in a sea of traffic. The man quickly jumped in and greeted his spiritual brother with a smile. Slowly the taxi made its way through the city adding people to the quickly filling mobile sanctuary. Once it was filled the taxi drove his small group of worshipers around the city as they prayed together and listened to a recorded sermon in their own language. The hour of worship quickly passed and the taxi quickly, one-by-one, dropped his precious cargo of saints off in different places throughout the city. Each believer stepped out of the car filled with gratitude for the ability to worship even in a taxi cab. They knew the risk and they were grateful for the privilege to worship Christ. And then the taxi pastor began again. Slowly making his way around the city to pick up the next taxi cab full of worshipers so that Christ’s church might worship their Savior.

As we come back together for worship this Sunday we can learn from our brothers and sisters around the world. Many of them have been worshiping together in small groups for decades. Through our American centric eyes and our American centric system of worship we might not even recognize what they are doing as worship. And yet they faithfully gather, with grateful hearts at the throne of Christ each week pouring out their praise and adoration in whispered worship. May their heart for worship be our heart for worship. May their attitude be our attitude. Let us learn from the persecuted church this Sunday:

  1. Worship is not merely a tradition - as you come back to worship on Sunday things will be different. You won’t get to sit in “your seat.” You might not even get to worship in the sanctuary. The songs won’t be lead by in-person musicians for a while. Even the order of worship will be slightly different. As you experience these changes be encouraged that worship is not a tradition as much as it is an encounter with our living Savior through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. We worship not as an event to make us feel comfortable but as an encounter with the Holy God that makes us feel both uncomfortable with our sin and loved by His forgiveness. Come this Sunday ready for an encounter with your loving Savior.                           
  2. Worship is Affected by Our Attitude - most of us have grown up in America where worship is woven into the fabric of our nation as a right. We should be eternally grateful for this blessing. But as we come to worship let me encourage you to approach worship with an attitude of gratefulness. It is a blessing to approach the mercy seat of our Savior. It is a blessing to humbly bow before a God who has purchased your salvation and your “right” to approach a Holy God. We did not earn this right, we do not deserve this right, we were given this right through the loving and merciful death of our Savior. Come this Sunday with an attitude of gratefulness for what God has given to you through Christ Jesus.                                               
  3. Worship is more than social distancing - one of the biggest changes this Sunday will be social distancing. Due to social distancing not everyone will be able to worship in the sanctuary. Some of us will be in the fellowship hall. We won’t be able to “gather” in the Gathering Area. We won’t be able to hug one another or shake one another’s hands (someone please remind me of that Sunday morning). And although fellowship is an integral part of the Christian life, worship is much more than drawing near to our friends. Worship is about drawing near to our Savior. Social distancing will only affect our proximity to other people not our proximity to God. Social distancing will only take affect in this life, not in the life to come. Although we might be six feet away from other people we still worship in community, corporately drawing near to our Savior. Come this Sunday ready to social distance from others while drawing near to Christ.

As we approach Sunday’s worship may the Holy Spirit stir our hearts with a joy and passion for Him. May our attitude be that of humble gratitude for the ability to draw near to Christ and to approach Him even when we can’t approach one another. May our worship service, that is filled with change and awkwardness, help us change the way we think, and feel, and approach our God. May our God be glorified through the worship of His people.

With Christ’s Love,

Richard Brueck