I know I’ve asked this question before but I believe it’s something we need to unpack again. And, it’s also the question Jesus asked those who were with him when he was questioned by John’s disciples. He said, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” He didn’t ask them just one time, but three times he asked them, “Why did you go out?”
That’s a good question for us to reflect on today. Why do we come here? What do we expect when we come? Do we come expecting something different? Do we come here to see miracles, to feel the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, or to experience God’s power at work in his Word? What do we hope for when we come to this church?
If I were to take a survey of this entire congregation this morning I imagine we would hear many different reasons why we all come to church. Some might come because they love to sing the hymns or to hear them sung. Others may come because they enjoy being with other folks who are just like them. They’re comfortable and feel at home among this group of people. Others may come because they are able to sit and feel God’s presence as the whole liturgy is performed, prayers, songs, reading of the Scriptures, proclamation, and the charge and blessing. Others come hoping that God will somehow fix them so they can cope with all the world bombards them with.
Such a simple question, “Why do we go to church,” can actually turn out to be very difficult to answer. That’s because worship is different for each of us. God didn’t make us all alike so why would our reasons for coming to church to worship be any different?
Whenever I come across a question I’m having trouble coming up with an answer that makes the most sense I like to go to the Confessions to see what our ancestors had to say about it. The Confession of 1967 has this to say about worship, “The church gathers to praise God, to hear his word for mankind, to baptize and to join in the Lord’s Supper, to pray for and present the world to him in ownership, to enjoy fellowship, to receive instruction, strength, and comfort, to order and organize its own corporate life, to be tested, renewed, and reformed, and to speak and act in the world’s affairs as may be appropriate to the needs of the time.”
When you decided that you were coming to church this morning what were the reasons you came? As I said God created all of us to be different therefore we’ve each taken different paths to get here. That means that none of us have experienced the same things and even if we have, how they impact us and how we remember them will be different. So why wouldn’t our experiences or expectations be different?
Many of us come to church to worship God and when we do we come carrying a whole lot of baggage. Sometimes we want nothing else but to be able to take that burden from our shoulders and lay it at the foot of the cross hoping that Jesus will pick it up and carry it for us. Sometimes we come with our problems not sure if God hears our prayers but we don’t have anywhere else to go and so we come here praying that he will notice us and help us. Sometimes we come knowing that we need to change, need to repent, but we aren’t able to do it by ourselves and so we come praying that God will provide just what we need. We don’t know what that is but we come hoping.
So, have you answered my question in your mind why it is you came here this morning? I pray that whatever the reason God led you here this morning that your questions were answered through the power of the Holy Spirit and that you leave here strengthened and encouraged to be the storyteller God needs this week as you walk the path he’s put you on.
Thanks be to God for his grace-filled peace and joy. Amen.