This is the fourth and last post in our series: For the Love of God (and others), Be on Time
If nothing else, these posts have resulted in some good chuckles. On Monday morning, a few of us got together to play basketball at 7am. Of course I showed up at 7:10. Two of the guys told me that they were going to write a series of blog posts on the importance of showing up on time. Touche. Also on Monday, Seven Mile Road Boston set apart the day to specifically pray for us. One of the children from the church prayed for us saying, “will you help Ajay resolve their problem with people not getting to church on time.” Love it. I’m just happy that there’s at least one person that reads our blog!
Well Seven Mile Road, hopefully with grace, I’ve tried to offer a few reasons (here, here, and here) why we should make every effort to be on time for corporate worship. Let me say again, there will always be the bad morning where being on time is impossible. Life happens to all of us. Moreover, our church is full of young families. Carting newborns, and infants, and toddlers, and teens anywhere is no easy task. There is much, much grace for us all. I would never want someone to feel that because they were running late, they might as well turn around and go home. Even if you just sneak in, in time for the benediction, we want you there! Yet for those of us who are consistently late without reason, we should invite the Spirit to search our hearts and show us if something’s off.
So then, for the many soft-hearted saints at Seven Mile Road who humbly receive instruction and make this pastor’s heart glad, let me offer one last encouragement on this whole thing:
Start heading to church on Saturday.
Or to say it differently, don’t let running into service on Sunday morning at 10:05 be the first time you think about corporate worship. Start preparing for it beforehand. What could that look like?
For starters, get adequate sleep. It’s humbling how often I put people to sleep from the pulpit. Doctors should start subscribing insomniacs to our podcast. The worst is the religious dozer whose head collapses and then tries to fake it like it he was nodding in agreement with the point I just made. Ok, I’m exaggerating. But the point is, how thoughtful are we about Sunday morning on Saturday night? Simple things like sleep can help with how you enter and experience corporate worship. Pastor Matt Moran from SMR Boston wrote a helpful post on making the most out of Sunday’s sermon. In it, he said:
“I’ve often stayed out late with people and at the end of the night someone will say something like, ‘Work is gonna be hell tomorrow.’ I have never heard someone worry that they won’t have the full use of their faculties on Sunday morning. I know, Saturday night is the weekend, and can be an opportunity to go out with friends, to stay out late because your don’t have the urgency of work the next morning. We need to balance that by remembering that in the morning God is going to address us through His Word. Get some rest. God intends to speak to you.”
Additionally, carve out space to pray. Pray for your heart and ears. Pray for the preacher’s heart and mouth. Pray for those whom you gather with. Perhaps you can do that before bed on Saturday night, or in the car on Sunday morning, or sitting in the pews at 9:55.
Use the guide that Siby publishes each week to get acquainted with the Scripture and songs for that Sunday. Lay out your clothes the night before. Eat breakfast. Set the alarm earlier. I have no idea what your routine is or what works for you. The point is, be purposeful. Let the same intentionality that goes into preparing for work or school during the week go into preparing for corporate worship on Sunday. And dads, take the lead on this. Bearing primary responsibility in your home is not an abstract theological idea. It works itself out in simple, concrete, real life ways. Take responsibility for getting your family to corporate worship on time. Do it with ample love and grace and patience; but do it.
What’s the point of all this? It’s not to burden you with rules or to wag a finger in your face. It’s certainly not because if you’re on time God will love you more and if you’re late, He won’t. Our righteousness is found in Jesus. We stand before God in Christ’s perfection. Being twenty minutes early is not going to improve on that. So then, like everything else in the Christian life, we do what we do, not to get God to love us, but because we love Him. We are secure in His love. We’re not trying to win it anymore. And knowing that we have it, we love Him in response. I’m simply suggesting, that Sunday morning is a big deal to God. It was His idea. He intends to meet you and speak to you and bless you. He intends to use you to do the same for others.
So then, for the love of God and others, be on time.