So, if the right way to enter into worship is to do so without expectations of what we will receive, and we are to enter into worship only to honor God through Christ, how is it that we then celebrate the God-given renewal of the covenant, receive God’s forgiveness, and receive grace in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood? While we do receive gifts in worship, it is not because we ask God to give them to us. We never leave Sunday worship “spiritually empty handed.” We may walk to our car and believe that once again we received nothing. The truth is that each of us walk out of church with a wonderful gift.
This truth is that while worship is not about me, worship always affects me.
I would first propose that you did receive something – even if you are unaware of it. What is that something? Grace.
- You received a message from the Bible – our sacred text and the message in sermon form. If we listen there will always be something the Holy Spirit will tell us through the sermon (even a bad one). Let the words you hear live with you the coming week.
- You received the offering of God’s peace from those around you as you greeted each other with the sacred words “The peace of the Lord be with you.”
- You received the forgiveness of the sins for which you are penitent. “Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins.”
- You received the grace of the Sacrament: That sacred mystery of Christ’s presence with us in bread and wine blessed and given. We renew our covenant with God and each other in this Holy Meal. Our souls are nourished, and our faith renewed.
One does not need to be cognizant of a blessing to receive it. One does not need to know all the ingredients of a meal to be nourished. One does not need to even remember what one had for lunch to have been nourished.
We don’t feel all the sun is doing, but we receive the blessings of the sun’s presence.
We enter into sacred space and time knowing that God is going to give us the grace of His presence. Even when we are distracted by troubles, kids, pains, or thoughts that distract, God does touch us in Word and Sacraments and in the people gathered.
When my attention is drawn away from the worship of God, the community which surrounds me holds me up and they carry me on the journey as one of them. We are not left behind. The Communion of Saints supports me in my weakened, distracted faith and worship. I am carried to the presence of God by those in the pew with me.
So, let’s enter into worship knowing that God is offering us all sorts of holy and life giving graces. We may or may not recognize them at the time – but they are present, nonetheless.