Soren Kierkegaard tells a tale about a make-believe country where only ducks live. “One Sunday morning, all the ducks came into church, waddled down the aisle and into their pews, and squatted. Then the duck minister took his place behind the pulpit, opened the duck bible and read, "Ducks! You have wings, and with wings you can fly like eagles. You can soar into the sky! Use your wings!" The ducks yelled, "Amen!" And they waddled home.” Do you get the point?
This Sunday we gather around the ANIMATE PRACTICE OF WORSHIP – SEEKING GOD’S PRESENCE! The portion of the Word of God that we will be living in is Psalm 145. Before we gather for worship this Sunday I encourage you to find some time to read this Psalm out loud two or three times. Prior to reading the Psalm quiet your heart, exhale out all the ‘stuff’ in your spirit and inhale the life giving presence and tender love of the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit and Word lead you into an intimate and affectionate time with the Lord.
Why worship? One could identify hundreds, if not thousands of reasons, as to why corporate worship is essential and life-giving. Consider just one important reason today. “Do this in remembrance of me for the forgiveness of sins.” At the heart of worship is the gift of forgiveness. Four Sundays ago we celebrated Easter! We usually think, Jesus is risen! Therefore we get eternal life! This is true but in the Bible, repeatedly, the logic is: Jesus is risen! Therefore we are forgiven.
Let’s say your spouse cheated on you, or your business partner defrauded you, or your parent abused you, or your child lied to you. Raising a dead body from a grave might seem relatively easy compared to restoring and reconciling a shattered relationship. When love is splintered and broken, a miracle is needed to bring healing. Alcoholics learn you need a ‘higher power’ to break your bondage – and God’s healing mercy and kindness is needed for us to repair broken relationships.
The resurrection of Jesus does not suggest that the crucifixion was something that didn’t matter. The assumption of Easter is that the killing of Jesus was the epitome of evil and injustice. The resurrection of Jesus announces that God overcame and redeemed all sin, brokenness, evil and wickedness. Forgiveness is breaking free from the shackles and chains of anger, hurt and bitterness. We leave it behind in the tomb of the past, just as Jesus left the grave. Is this easy?
Often times it takes a lot of hard work. You share openly, you listen, you visit those dark places honestly, you bear much hurt and then somehow choose to continue in love. We need to forgive, and we need to be forgiven. This is what the Bible calls Agape love. If you’ve made a mess of things, if you are carrying hurt, bitterness and anger, remember that as Jesus hung on the cross he prayed over the soldiers, “Father, forgive them.” I have no doubt they were forgiven – and I wonder if any of those same soldiers were the ones Pilate assigned to guard Jesus’ grave. When they woke up and he was gone, did they remember his forgiveness of them.
Whom do you need to forgive? Not in the worldly way of ‘kissing and making up’, but in the way of leaving the old way of life in the tomb. What in you needs to be forgiven? We don’t have to be consigned and relegated to our sins and ‘waddle through this life like the ducks in Kierkegaard’s parable, we can be raised up and fly like God created us to be. Why worship? To hear the Risen Christ say, “I forgive you!” If Easter is real, so is forgiveness! Ask God for a miracle! It can happen!
Looking forward to worshipping with you on Sunday.