Preparation

Today I began preparing for Reformation Sunday.  Some of you might be saying “what’s that?”.  Well, it’s the Sunday closest to October 31st, the 499th anniversary of the day Martin Luther began the Reformation by nailing 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg.   It always amazes me how many Protestant Christians know next to nothing about the Reformation.  After all, it’s the most important religious event of the last 1000 years.  But then again we live in a country where most people probably can’t tell you who was president in the year they were born, must less what happened in Germany 5 centuries ago.  (I know, I’m being smarmy, but it’s been that kind of day)

Still, for Lutherans at least, this is an important day, a day when we remember and celebrate the movement God began to reform His Church after many years of drifting away from it’s Biblical moorings.  We’re going to sing Salvation Unto Us Has Come and A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.  We’re going to hear words about how God frees us from bondage to sin through Christ alone without any of the works of the Law.  We’re going to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus.  We’re going to be blessed spiritually by worship, emotionally by the fellowship of other Christians and physically as we share a wonderful meal after the service.

So I’m busy preparing for that special Sunday service.  I generally begin my sermon preparation on Tuesday by reviewing the texts and looking through commentaries and trying to get a fix on what aspect of God’s Word I will try to highlight that Sunday.  I expect to write the sermon on Friday.  In between, I expect to be in prayer about the words I will preach, that they will be true to the Word we have been given.

Now I know pastors spend more time thinking about such things than do most lay people.  But truly everyone should spend time every week preparing themselves for worship.  Everyone should seek to know themselves better and know their neediness even more every day.  So when we come into the sanctuary we are truly ready to commit ourselves wholly and completely to God.

It’s way too easy to assume that worship is something you do for an hour or an hour and a half each week.  Truly, though, worship is to be part of our everyday lives.  We are to prepare ourselves for our time of worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ by worshiping each day.  Preparing our hearts and minds for the proper reception of God’s gifts in the means of grace is part of the life of all who call upon the Name above every name–Jesus the Christ.

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Waiting

I’m sitting here in my office right now waiting–waiting for a concert we’re going to have at church tonight.  I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of months.  It’s by a group called the Haining Family out of Branson, MO.  We first heard them at our AFLC national conference this year.  At the moment I’m praying for good attendance and spiritual benefits for the people who come tonight.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not real good with waiting.  Once I’ve decided on something or once I’ve been told that something will happen, well, I want to get on with it.  Patience is a virtue, but it is occasionally illusive for me.  From a lifetime of watching people, I know that I’m not the only impatient person in the world–it’s a widely shared trait.

Lots of people are that way about waiting for the Jesus’ return too.  If you’re one of those folks who would be really happy if He came tomorrow morning–well I’m with you.  In the first years after the Lord’s Ascension there were evidently many people who believed His coming would happen any day.  They looked for it every morning when they woke up.  Some were so eager that they actually stopped working and just, as we say today, hung around, causing the Apostle Paul to say that if they didn’t want to work–well, they didn’t get to eat.

I can’t say I’ve seen that today, but we do get a lot of folks who seemed entranced with “signs” that portend the Lord’s immanent return.  The latest one seems to be something about a “black moon” coming in about 20 years. (I had never heard of it either).  But Jesus told us that it was not ours to know when the day of the time would be.  We just have to live our lives as His faithful people and trust that when it is just the right time God will act.  Lots of people awaited a Messiah for generations, looking here and there.  But Jesus didn’t come until just the right time.

So the question becomes–do we trust God enough to just wait?  Or will we waste our time with schedules and signs and calculations that confuse the faithful and embarrass the Church before the world?

I’m not real good with waiting–but I’m going to trust that God will do what He wants when the time is complete.  In the meantime, we all have lives to live and work to do–after all the Gospel is always going to be Good News.