My mother is one of those people who when you call, she answers. When I was little and I had a bad dream she would come running to comfort me. When I was in college and got sick, she would take a day off and drive down to bring me food, or take my laundry home. As an adult she has on more than one occasion dropped everything to be by my side in a crisis of heart or health. She is one of those people who has built her life around showing love and kindness to those who call her. She lives a life of service to others and to God.
When I was a kid, you went to church, every Sunday, no questions asked you went to worship. Because that is what you did. I can remember getting dressed for church every Sunday, buckling my little patent leather shoes, grabbing my little bible or maybe a purse and going to church with my family. Because you go to church to worship God. There is a church, an altar, a pastor, a congregation and God. All the elements of worship. It becomes your way of life, your routine, your comfort. To my mother it is not a chore, it is her way of life. She has dedicated her life to giving and loving and modeling Christ’s love.
Now I know as an adult that I don’t go to church because my mom made me, but I’m sure glad she made me, because it allowed me as an adult to explore the faith on my own, to formulate my own opinions, to start my own walk by choice. Had I not grown up in the faith, I don’t know where I would have ended up as an adult. Maybe in a church, maybe not. But because I was “in the habit of doing” as it says in Hebrews 10:25 and encouraged by those around me I have continued my weekly ritual of going into my adult life and now it’s my job as a parent to keep my kids “in the habit of doing”.
In the passage of Exodus, God gives Moses instructions on setting up the tabernacle and preparing a place of worship. Giving implicit instruction to prepare the altar, anointing it and everything to make it a holy place, even anointing his son Aaron to make him a priest (and all his sons) so that they too may serve and so and so on.
On any given Sunday, in any town in America, in any place in Joliet there are people meeting at the altar together. With one universal goal. To come closer to God. We utter the response, we read in unison and sing praise as one voice. We pass the peace in solidarity, and we give of ourselves in offering to build and grow the place we gather. As verse 22 of Hebrews reads we “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Two big things jump out at me from these passages. First we need a place to meet, second we need others. Both are things the church has to offer us and two things we often take for granted. In this passage of Hebrews we look at the intentionality, and not alone. Not just meeting with each other, but encouraging one another. What does this mean as a Christian? Can we only worship in a church and with other Christians? Does our walk only count if it’s within the church walls? Is God present in our daily life? The greatest thing of this relationship that we build with our God is reinforced in our reading of Psalm 20. As we build a faith base within our church and with our church friends there is a 3rd element that comes in to play and that is our personal relationship with God. The part that goes with us when we are at home, work and play. When our friends aren’t around and when we are lone or surrounded by strangers. What does this mean? To me it is reinforced in reading of Psalm 20. because of my faithfulness, because I have been baptized in the word, because I offer my life as a sacrifice through daily practice and participation in the church I can rest assured that when need him he will be there for me. When I call him, he will answer. Pretty much the way my mother did when I was little and still does even though I’m grown.