(Originally published in the “Lessons from the Heart” section of the Carroll County Comet, October 23, 2019)

Every weekend there are people who go to church. Most times it’s on Sundays, but it could be on Saturdays. Denominational churches or non-denominational churches are located in large buildings, small buildings, or converted strip mall stores. Service may be traditional or contemporary. And the people may be wearing anything from three-piece suits to shorts and t-shirts. Regardless of the setting or what they’re wearing, these people go to church.

But I say, “Don’t go to church.” Instead, “Be present in worship.”

“Worship”, according to William Temple, “is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”*

In other words, it’s becoming excited about being in the presence of the Lord. It’s opening our minds to what we are being taught through the scriptures. It is replacing all the junk the world tells us, and we tell ourselves, to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us about us, others, and His creation. Worship is accepting the fact that Christ loves us even when we don’t love ourselves and then sharing Christ’s love with others. It’s accepting the idea that our way may not be the best way and resigning to Christ’s way as our way. It is doing all these things for one hour or so on Saturdays or Sundays as an act of paying honor to God.

To accomplish this level of worship, you can’t just go to church. In order to pay honor to God in this way, you must be present in worship. You must let go of all the things that happened last week or that will happen in the week to come. Regardless of the setting or what you’re wearing, you must be willing to give all of yourself – heart, mind, body, and soul – to Christ as a gift, as an offering, to show Him how much you love and appreciate Him. Your attendance cannot be the act of checking the box that you went to church. Your attendance has to be heartfelt, filled with a desire to spend time with Christ. You have to engage with what is being sung and said. You must clear away anything that keeps you from adoring Christ in that moment.

Don’t go to church. Open your heart to Christ’s love. Surrender your will to Christ’s purpose. Worship Christ with all that you are. (*https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1543945-worship-is-the-submission-of-all-of-our-nature-to)

In His Love,

Pastor Kim Holley