I’ve attended church services weekly for thirty years, but I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve cried during the service.
Having been reared in a churchgoing, Christian family, Sunday morning worship had grown comfortable and predictable, like a morning bowl of bran flakes. I’d allowed my participation in the corporate worship of the Church body to become a blasé routine that did little to challenge, cultivate, or spiritually form me.
But this particular Sunday was different. Both woefully ignorant of the practices and traditions of liturgical churches, Jason and I tentatively stepped across threshold of the local Anglican church to hear a guest speaker whose ministry we both admire.
Visitors surrounded by stained glass, incense, and the processional choir, Jason and I found ourselves kneeling to collectively confess our sins after passing the peace. We responded to the Reader’s declarations with professions of gratitude to God and hymns of thanksgiving. We relished the reading of the Word, and declared our hope for Christ’s second coming in the recitation of the Nicene Creed. We received the exegetical application of the Old and New Testament lessons and sang the doxology. We stood for the presentation of the Eucharist, and when I heard George Herbert’s (1593-1633) words resounding in the nave, I began to cry.
Come ye hither all, whose taste is our waste; save your cost, and mend your fare. God is here prepared and dressed, and the feast, God, in whom all good things are… Come ye hither all, whose love is your dove, and exalts you to the sky; here is love, which having breath ev’n in death, after death can never die. Lord, I have invited all, and I shall still invite, still call to thee; for it seems but just and right in my sight, where is all, there all should be.
Where is all, there all should be. In the communion of the Church body, in the sacrament we take to honor the death, resurrection, and second coming of Jesus Christ, in the worship of our triune God, is the fullness of the Christian life.
And I cried. Because how often do you sense the sacred presence of heaven weave its way into the ordinary moments of life and stun you with its beauty?
I was fully alive and worshipping with all of my senses, keenly aware of the mysterious and intoxicating presence of my Lord. Tenderly held in his arms. In awe of his goodness and mercy. Responding with adoration and praise. In solidarity with millions of individuals, both past and present, who make up the glorious body of Christ.
The pure splendor of that morning remains with me. I was awakened from my slumber and reminded of what a life of worship requires—my whole being fully engaged in praising God. And so, whether it takes visiting a different church one Sunday to glean from another perspective, changing the structure or place of your quiet time, or reading from a new Bible translation, do that which rouses you from your spiritual routine and incites in you a fresh desire for God.