LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
July 14, 2012 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Last week was a difficult one at the Scarle household. We are dealing with some health issues and a myriad of appointments. My creative juices dried up, and I just could not come up with a column I thought would be worthwhile. As far as I can determine, I have been writing this column for twenty-five years, starting with 1985. I haven’t missed many deadlines, but the time does come round when the mind slows down a bit.
It has been necessary for Joan and me to stay close to home for a while. It is a new experience for both of us to miss worship on Sundays. I am reminded at a personal level of a premise I have always taught, namely that worship is the first response of the mind and heart in a relationship with God. Psalm 95 expresses it. “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving, and extol him with music and song… Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
The Psalm is certainly a call to the individual to give honor to the creator of all that is. However, there is no question that it is also a call to community. Those who worship are the people of God and the flock under his care. The inclination to claim that religion is personal and that there is no need to “go to church” is an aberration. The God of the Psalmist is the Good Shepard. He is the God of the flock. The believer is a part of a family, not an only child. The avoidance of corporate worship is evidence that a person does not feel at home with the brothers and sisters.
This attitude toward worship carries over into the community of the believers in the Messiah, Jesus. Paul writes to the community, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more so as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25).”
The family of God is not a perfect family. Until it is caught up into the place being prepared for it in glory, there will be irritations and imperfections. However, for now it is a new experience for me to be away from the gathered community for several weeks. Joan and I both are looking forward to being back with the flock soon. Our Pastor tells us that they are saving our pew. Of course, nothing would please me more than that the sanctuary would be so full that they needed our pew for newcomers.
I would encourage all my readers to value the experience of worship. I have always done so, but there is a clarity that comes when you need to be away.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .)