St John Lutheran Church


Pastor Bond Haldeman - 2006 - presentAs long as weekly worship attendance is just one other thing of equal (or lessor) value among the myriad of things to do, worship attendance will continue to decline. You know the options even on Sunday morning. Movies and TV have far better visual effects. The superior production values of songs on the radio are obvious. Sporting events are more exciting. The children need to have their activities, like soccer, swimming, volleyball, etc. And all of these are passive activities, that we just take in, sometimes even in the comfort of our own home. Other times we might actually do something. We have to get to the yardwork. The friends or relative are expected later, so there is cleaning or cooking to do. Or the season for golf/fishing/hunting/whatever-other-activity-we-can-think-of is limited. And, finally, sleep—who doesn’t need more sleep.

Stacked up against all of these, from a worldly perspective, worship cannot help but lose. We could try marketing and advertisement, but when that is to the “members,” we must be aware there is a problem. Invitations are okay for unbelievers, but not for those who would claim to be members, the arms and hands, the eyes, ears and feet of the Body of Christ. Disciples of Christ see worship differently.

They sense a need to offer prayer, praise and thanksgiving to God. They need the support and accountability of the Christian community, and the fellowship of faith.

They need to respond to the grace of God by seeking to keep the commandments, including that one that “suggests” weekly worship—the Third Commandment. Followers of Christ want to live the values of the Kingdom of God, giving, sharing, praising, and loving, and practice them for an hour each week. They want to join together with other Christians, to make real the Body of Christ, even if only for an hour or two. They want to devote themselves to the Holy Scriptures, knowing that in the Word the Living Christ is met. They want to receive the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. They want to hear again the absolution that forgives their sins and frees them to go forward again in the grace of God.

Disciples of Christ follow the example of Jesus who “went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom” (Lk 4:16). Followers of Christ are moved to worship as a response to God’s grace. It comes from inside, and provokes the believer to adoration of the Son of God. And the funny thing is, it is through worshipping that we grow in faith. (See the article about the Four Keys.) Martin Luther would suggest: If you want to believe, come to worship. If you do believe, come to worship.

Make it a priority, like your doctor’s appointment, but with the Great Physician, Jesus. Make it as important as your fitness or exercise, since “physical training is of some value, [but] godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Rarely would you miss a meal, so don’t miss the Feast of Victory of Christ over death. Put it in your calendar and to- do list every week, for worship is how we try to “love the Lord your God.” Be the disciple of Christ you are called to be, and be blessed by Word and Sacrament.

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