March 31 – Choosing to Worship

Why do you choose to worship God? Increasingly worship is an option that even the faithful exercise from time to time.

Person standing at a decision point

At the time of the American Revolution, a town might have more than one place of worship, but social pressures and tax law ensured that you would participate regularly in one of those congregations. A hundred years later, in the mid 1800’s states and cities could no longer financially support congregations, but other laws essentially shut down all other distractions on Sundays. In the mid 1900’s Sunday Blue Laws were overturned and stores were open not merely on Sunday afternoon, but all day long. Children’s sports activities quickly filled both Saturday and Sunday from dawn til dusk. Only a few decades ago, pastors defined active members as those participated in worship or another church event at least twice a week. Now we include those who attend merely twice a month in that group.

When Joshua led Israel into the promised land they suddenly found themselves faced with new options. While slaves in Egypt their masters directed their labors, controlled what they would eat and drink, and designated when and where they could sleep. After escaping to the wilderness, God provided manna and water that the people could collect each day. But on the day that they entered the Promised Land, the manna ceased. On that day they had to rely on the produce of the land for food and the work of their hand. On that day, they chose to worship God, celebrating their freedom.

Some people still yearn for the structure of governmental enforced worship and prescribed prayer in school. Instead I believe God calls us to make faith so enticing that worship is the preferred choice, one that we would readily desire for our neighbors to voluntarily join with us so they too might experience reconciliation in Christ.

I will have more to say about Joshua 5:9-12 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church at 8:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 31st.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

A Tip for Parents

Each worship time includes a moment to recognize when we have not measured up to our own standards, to those of our families, or to God’s hope for us. This is immediately followed by assurance of God’s forgiveness. It is like an eraser that follows us clearing the black marks from our reputations so we might live full lives.