I mentioned in my sermon this week an idea that I thought might be a good illustration of the sermon topic. By now it is known simply as the infamous “no coffee or bagels” idea. In case you missed us on Sunday it went something like this: Instead of actually setting out coffee and bagels we just put out directions to a coffee shop and a bagel shop. If people are so concerned with coffee and bagels they could go directly to the source. We could also set out a sign that pointed to the sanctuary which said “Worship of the one true God this way.” It seems simple enough to me… want coffee? Go to Starbucks. Want Bagels? Go to Blazing Bagels. Want to Worship the almighty, risen, reigning King of the Earth? Go into the sanctuary and get to business.
Of course the rest of the staff roundly vetoed my “no coffee or bagels” idea, on grounds that it may send the wrong message.
I got a few comments after the service about this particular idea… it obviously struck a chord with many because the feedback radar was lighting up like a Christmas tree.
As you can imagine, suggesting to a congregation full of people who have coffee cups in their hands that it might just be more important to be in the room for the worship than it is to top off that cup is a just a little bit scandalous.
Or is it? Maybe the scandal is that we think we can have God however we want Him, whenever we want him, on our terms, in our time table, in whatever way is comfortable to us?
I think a lot of people heard me wrong on Sunday. I love coffee! Love it, period. I don’t mind people having it in the service, doesn’t bother me at all. I brought the idea up as a way to expose our prejudice, to challenge our culture, to help imagine a new and different way. Because before you can be the church or the person that you want to be, you have to start imagining what that church or person would look like. You don’t get there by accident.
When I was in college I got to be part of something very special. For a stretch of several years I was privileged to be part of a community of people who loved and longed to worship God with one another. For the most part, It wasn’t something we did out of obligation or routine, we wanted to do it, more than just about anything else, people wanted to gather to worship God.
That experience has been like a drug. I’ve spent the rest of my life chasing the next high. I’ve never been completely satisfied. To be honest with you, it re-arranged my life, set me on a new course, challenged all my assumptions about what real living was. Those years spent in a radical community of worshipers made me who I am today.
What if the gathered worship of the people of God was THE thing that you looked forward every week. What if it was so incredible, energizing, and exhilarating that you couldn’t wait to get started? That you didn’t ever want to stop? What if it was more important than coffee or bagels? What if it filled you from the inside out? What if worship of God was the highest priority in your life?
It could be, and if it was two things would be true: 1) you would never be the same 2) you would never regret it.
God is incredible. Huge and Holy.
God is calling you to be part of that Holiness, to be part of a people set apart to tell the world about his goodness, mercy, freedom. God is calling you to worship Him!
The craziest thing about that is that when we bring our worship to God, we leave more full of life than when we started. The more we bring, the more we walk away with. This might be the only exchange like that in all of the world: the more you bring, the more you leave with, it’s a reversal of the entire economy of life that we are used to.
My mission in life is to get God’s people to bring everything.
Because when we bring our everything we find that we leave with more than we could have imagined, more than we thought possible.
We enter worship ordinary people, we leave worship Holy people of the risen king of the world.