Preparing for worship – John Kelly.
No, I can’t be the only one. There have to be others — those whose shoulders also drop the moment they encounter the suggestion of inconvenience. Those whose unadulterated enthusiasm is one stubbed toe away from devolving into absolute annoyance. Those who go from cooing at their pups one minute to cussing out inanimate objects the next.
Or maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better, remembering how colorful my vocabulary grew as I worked to fit my new bicycle in my old Camry last weekend.
With its fat, knobby tires and glossy black frame, my new bike had been all I could think about since ordering it. (Ask anyone who’s been around the office the last couple of weeks.) But as much as I planned for future upgrades and dreamed of going on weekend rides with friends, I failed to ready myself for the unexciting hassle of fitting it, my bag and a miniature schnauzer into the back of a mid-sized sedan bound for Oklahoma.
But as sure as you’re reading this, my bike, my dog and I all arrived safely, in one piece. We spent time with dear friends, riding around lakes and neighborhoods.
As my shirtsleeves caught a breeze on a downhill turn, I was glad I didn’t let my handlebar-slammed shins talk me out of quality time outdoors. As my friends offered me encouraging advice to help me be a more efficient, perseverant rider, I settled that having to Tetris my front wheel into a Toyota wasn’t an unfair trade-off.
Turning our minds toward the practice of communal, corporate worship, I realize the practice is less “like riding a bike” — and more like owning one. While our enjoyment of worship doesn’t rest on our mastery of all of its formal aspects, it still requires effort and preparation. It requires we pack up our cars and risk stubbed toes and even bumper-to-bumper traffic. The hassle of even making it to the parking lot (or our device screens) on a Sunday morning tries to talk us out of seeing our time together as a worthwhile investment.
But sort of like my experience with biking, it’s ironically our time together — the time we spend receiving divine insight and encouragement from others — that makes the initial hassle appear worth it. It might even be the case that such hassles serve to underscore more clearly the formative benefits divine community offers.
So if all you can offer today is annoyance, no worries! From my experience, that’s a good enough stance for receiving formative gifts of communal encouragement and divine presence.