What follows

by Stan Mitchell

Do a little exercise for me, would you please? Find your pocket dictionary, and look up the word “worship.”

My Webster’s says: “Honor, dignity, worship. See worth & ship.” Other terms the dictionary gives include, “reverence, devotion to a deity, a church service or other rite showing this, extreme devotion or intense love and admiration.”

Now do something else. Look at the words which precede and follow “worship” in your dictionary. These include “worn,” “Worn-out,” “worry,” “worrywart,” “worse” and “wound.”

I find a certain irony in that!

I am convinced that one day it will be proven scientifically that Saturday evenings are actually several hours shorter than other evenings and that pollen which causes drowsiness is emitted every Sunday morning!

Scientists will also find that inanimate objects such as children’s socks, Bibles and lesson plans conceal themselves when we are already late and in a rush to get to church.

And of course it’s on Sundays as we pull out of our driveways that we remember the stove was still on! It’s as if some gremlin was determined to make our preparation for worship a harried and chaotic experience!

So listen to this, please.

  • If you come to church flustered and upset, come!
  • If you come a little late, come!
  • If you come fearful or heartbroken, come!

There is a reason why they call the auditorium (that cold, Latin noun) a sanctuary. This time and place should be one of refuge and comfort from the turmoil of the outside.

Here our brethren meet our fears with a gentle touch. Here we enter the presence of God, who is merciful and loving. Here we can cast our anxieties at the foot of the cross. Bring in those fears and frustrations, and lay them at his feet.

That’s what he intended.

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29, ESV).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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