Preparing for Church

It’s Sunday morning.  The boys are still asleep but soon enough the chaos of the day will begin and unfortunately, none seem to be as chaotic as Sunday morning.  After a brief encounter with PBS Kids we will start the crazy routine of getting ready.  Feed everyone breakfast.  Clean up from breakfast.  Realize that neither of the stinky boys have bathed in a respectable amount of days.  Try to give quick baths that turn into arguments.  Convince the 1st grader that he should wear clothes without holes and stains for church. Revisit PBS Kids so mom can get ready.  Think about dressing up and fixing my hair but then realize there’s not enough time (or it’s not worth the effort).  Get tired husband out of bed.  Make sure the diaper bag is ready.  Change a last minute poopie diaper.  Trip on toys that didn’t get cleaned up from Saturday night.  Round up shoes for everyone.  And finally herd everyone out of the house and into the car, only to realize you lost track of time and will be late again.

I hope your Sunday morning doesn’t look like this, but chances are it does!  We arrive at church exhausted, frustrated, and quite frankly not in a very friendly mood (probably because in all the chaos we forgot to feed ourselves!).  We breath a sigh of relief as we drop the children off for class and then collapse in the nearest seat seat we can find.  Worship has already started and instead of joining in the songs, we find our minds wondering about lunch and chores and everything under the sun except God.  We sit through worship and the sermon and shake a few hands before we pick up the kids, but all in all we leave as exhausted and frustrated as when we arrived.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!!  Grab your Bible for a moment and check out Psalm 24.

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  And who shall stand in his holy place?

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

“He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who see the face of the God of Jacob.”

v. 3-6

Somewhere in the midst of the Sunday chaos we have to stop and ask God to join the mess.  The reason we leave church as exhausted as when we arrived is because we expect God to do all the work.  We hope that just being in the sanctuary will allow us to enter into the resting, peaceful presence of our creator, but it won’t.  We have to take the first step.

“Who shall come into God’s presence?  He who has taken the time to check his own heart.”  We cannot enter God’s presence when we are full of ourselves.  Before we cross that threshold into the sanctuary we must stop and ask “God, am I ready to worship today?  Is there any sin in me that would prevent me from entering your presence?”  Then we have to pause long enough to hear his answer and repent of any sin he reveals.  At this point we are ready to cross the threshold and “receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of our salvation.” (v.5)

How different would our worship services look if we all took the time for this exercise?   We would be a people ready to enter his presence and in turn God could pour himself out in ways we never imagined.  I know this won’t be easy but let us commit to do it.  Wouldn’t the drive to church be the perfect time?  Instead of discussing plans for the afternoon or the coming week, we can seek God’s face and prepare our hearts for our arrival into his presence.  Then, when we walk through the front doors it won’t be in frustration and exhaustion but instead peace, ready to experience the moving of His Spirit.

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