Sermon 04/26/20: The Church In Your Home (Eastertide II)
On Sunday mornings we attend worship at the church and we hear a good sermon and hopefully feel the presence of God. But the practice of what is preached begins on Monday. The challenge is not to hear the faith but to live the faith that we hear.
Yesterday the sermon was about moving our public worship in a church building on Sunday into the church that meets in our homes during this time of pandemic and shelter in place. Usually on a Sunday all we have to do is show up on time in our place, and we are led into worship the way sheep are led forward by a shepherd.
Worship in the home requires us to lead ourselves forward.
What happens in public worship however can help us lead ourselves forward into worship in the church that meets in our home.
The first transferable reality is that each one of us has our spot, our pew, our place where we come to worship. In the same way, we need to pick a place for our worship in the home to happen.
The second transferable reality is that worship in the church building happens at a particular time. When we worship in the church that meets in our home, we need to have a time to show up for worship, some sort of structure to help us to be present rather than procrastinate. There are a number of suggestions to structure our spiritual disciplines with regard to time and place so that we take advantage of the opportunity to worship in our homes.
The first thing that happens in our worship in the church is that we surrender to God, turn our eyes upon Jesus, and turn our focus away from the world and all of its distractions. There are three prayers for surrender that we have found helpful to us in our worship at home. They are the Centering Prayer, the Wesley Covenant Prayer and the Prayer of Saint Francis. (You can view and print them here.) Surrender IS the purpose of the Call to Worship.
Please consider writing your own surrender prayers. If you find yourself pressed for time, the surrender is the important part. The phrase from The Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven,” is sufficient as the surrender prayer, as well as hundreds of other scriptures that might appeal to you. The important part is to take a moment to surrender to God. That’s when worship begins.
So when will your worship happen during the day? Here are some options.
Jesus took time to pray at the beginning of the day. First thing in the morning is always a good time.
Mark 1:35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.
Psalm 1 suggests studying the Bible, God’s word in the morning in the evening, twice a day, as a certain method for excellent guidance in life.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Benedictine monks quote Psalm 119 and pray seven times a day.
Psalm 119:164 Seven times a day I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances. 165 Great peace have those who love thy law; nothing can make them stumble.
The longer times are morning and evening, but every 3 hours they stop for prayer and to surrender. The Canonical Hours are:
Lauds (dawn; approximately 5 a.m.; often combined with Prime.)
Prime (early morning, the first hour of daylight, approximately 6 a.m.)
Terce (third hour, 9 a.m.)
Sext (sixth hour, noon)
Nones (ninth hour, 3 p.m.)
Vespers (sunset, approximately 6 p.m.)
Compline (end of the day before retiring)
For years, I have set my phone to chime these hours, from 9 am to 9 pm, to remind me to stop for a moment to pray and surrender what I am doing to God’s will. At times I would use the sound of a single knock, and Kim and I would smile and say that Jesus was at the door.
One of the most convenient ways to include surrender in your prayer life is to pray one of the surrender prayers before each meal. In Lent and Advent, we like to begin meals with the Centering Prayer at breakfast, the Wesley Covenant Prayer at lunch and conclude with the Prayer of Saint Francis at supper time.
What is the best place – or places – for you to worship in your home?
What is the best time – whether that is by the clock or an event like dinner – for you to worship in your home?
James 1:21-25 … receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.