Just the other day I saw workers putting up a big white tent in the parking lot at the Kmart. Boxes of fireworks were being carried into the tent. As we approach the Fourth of July, I can already hear firecrackers in our neighborhood in the early evening. Many towns will have parades. Lots of families will have big reunions and picnics and barbecues. Historic battles will be recreated. Flags will fly. Fireworks displays will light the sky.
We are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our nation and all that it stands for - - the proud history of a nation governed "of the people, by the people and for the people." It is a special day set apart for celebration, and we will celebrate it with enthusiasm and excitement.
Wouldn't it be remarkable if every week we could be this excited about being a part of our Sunday morning worship? I suppose if we held worship only once a year we could have bands and parades and fireworks. I suppose if we only held Sunday morning worship once a year, we could take off work and make it a point to celebrate the wonderful event of God's love with our families and friends as we do on Christmas and Easter, other once-a-year events.
But Sunday morning worship is too important to limit it to a single, annual holiday bash. We can afford to celebrate the birth of our nation only once a year, but we can't afford to relegate our praise and thanksgiving for what God has done for us to only one day a year. What God has done for us should be celebrated every day. Every minute we should be celebrating the joy in God's love and mercy and grace.
According to a spiritual director friend of mine, one of the warning signs of spiritual illness is "A change in prayer life and attendance at worship from regular to irregular."
The Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians (and us) to "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Constantly! Unceasingly! Not once a year. Not even just once a week!
We are called to worship, to praise, to give thanks every Sunday morning. And if fireworks don't ignite in our hearts with the joy of what we have received from God in Jesus Christ, then we should take a moment to think about it.
Christ died for us!
Our God loves us so much that we have been given the opportunity to spend eternity in a joy that far outshines anything we can imagine - - a promise so extravagant that we need to be constantly reminded of it lest we begin to doubt it.
And so we worship each Sunday in order to receive that reminder.
Have a happy Fourth of July! See you Sunday.
Pastor Nancy Becker