Today is my first day to experience church in Israel. Last week I overslept- I didn’t sleep all night, went to breakfast and laid back down. My alarm went off and I evidently hit “off” instead of “snooze” So waking up at 12:20…well church is at 11:00. My roommate now knows to wake me in case I am sleeping.
I am in a messianic Jewish community. That means many of those here are Jews who have trusted their lives to Christ. I see it as a really interesting life- the depth of the Jewish life perfected if you will by new life in Christ. So church today will feel like church in any Christian setting. But in Israel. With a lot of Messianic Jews :). But that is not really why I am writing today.
As I am getting ready this morning I can’t help but think of a sermon I saw 8-9 times the summer I worked Centrifuge at Carson Newman. The first night of worship the pastor got on stage and begins recounting the schedule of the day, event by event. Toward the end of the schedule recounting a pizza guy walks in…Jon calls to him from the back of the auditorium and says “I’m the guy who ordered the pizza” The guy goes up to the stage, gives him the pizza and a cold Dr. Pepper and takes his money and leaves. Jon continues his recounting the day while eating his pizza and drinking his Dr. Pepper
The interesting thing is that week by week some kid somewhere would holler out “Give me a piece of pizza!" Or “That is not fair!” The first week it was particularly hurtful that the AC in the auditorium wasn’t on- the computer hadn’t been programed for us to be there on the weekends yet. So that Dr. Pepper was looking good to about 700 of us.
Jon’s response to the outbursts week after week was the same “I prepared before I came into this room, and now I am receiving. Did you?”
His point wasn’t about the pizza, it was about our heart condition. How many of the people in the room took time ahead of walking in that auditorium to prepare their hearts- to later receive? That we may take time to prepare our hearts and minds before we go to worship. And for that lesson I am grateful.
So I have been praying and seeking the Lord this morning about worship. About my day. Praying for a friend that is getting married. For a friend who is sharing at a church tomorrow. For friends settling into life with their newly adopted daughter. For a dude I know running a race- with the goal to do better…to talk about the Lord to his teammates. For my friends waiting for a call to go get their son- and for their son as he waits. I pray for the people in this world who are hurting and don’t know the Savior. For those who know the Savior but struggle to trust Him day by day. So many needs in this world. I pray for the Holy Spirit to meet us as we gather corporately. For truth to be spoken and lives to be changed. For people to leave more in love with Him than when they entered.
I want to go to worship this morning and see Him move…because I expected it. To hear the Holy Spirit speak…because I (we) asked for it. To see lives change because of the truth of His word…because I asked for it to be spoken boldly in love today. To the glory of the Father. I want to be prepared.
We don’t have a formal place to go to pray like my friend’s church does…I love that they do have a room to gather and pray. There is something about the quiet of a room of hearts listening and praying that feels like heaven. There is something about hearing someone pray the same thing you were just praying…confirmation I guess that maybe I am hearing Him today! Haha If your church has such an opportunity- take it. If it doesn’t, be sure to create that space in your morning. Worship isn’t just about what we receive, but corporately what He does. I want to be mindful not just for me, but for others…and the joy of seeing Him work around the room if you will.
So I pray. Because I can. Because it is an honor to stand before the Lord and bring people to the throne. Because He tells us too. Because it is what love does. And I want to be about Him and His love.
May you see Him new today (and Sunday when you all go to church :)