13 Feb Words of Grace – Preparing for Worship
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” – Psalm 95:6
Each week the church staff and volunteers prepare for the Sunday worship gathering at Grace. The sermon, songs, buildings and bulletins must be prepared during the week to make worship on Sunday meaningful for the congregation.
Over time, however, it seems that the church has come to believe that the responsibility for preparing for corporate worship rests solely in the hands of a few people. We’ve come to believe that the technical aspects of our gatherings are the real preparations to be made. Even I can think that if the sermon is prepared, I am prepared. I can fail to prepare my heart for the worship of God.
This morning I read a word of correction from J.I. Packer (1). Drawing from the Puritans, Packer brings us back to the old-school notion that preparation for worship is the calling of every Christian and happens before the worship service begins. Here is what I gleaned from Packer’s words:
1. Preparation for corporate worship is a regular part of our prayer and communion with God. And, it takes more time than the thirty seconds before the service begins.
2. Preparation for worship is “heart-work.” Having a Bible, bulletin, and a silenced cell phone are important, but the heart needs to be prepared by God.
3. Preparing for worship begins Saturday night, or at the latest early Sunday morning. This time of preparation includes confession of sin, consideration of the grace and greatness of God, pondering the importance of each aspect of corporate worship, and asking God to prepare us for the upcoming gathering with his people.
4. Preparing to worship continues all the way to our seat among the congregation, where we also pray for the people around us to be prepared to worship the Living God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit.
(1) J.I. Packer, Classic Collection, NavPress, pg. 288