- October 02, 2018
- Ned Erickson
My friend gave me this old out of print book for me to read. He said, “It’s easier than his other one.”
“Thanks,” I said, holding the relatively thin book in my hand. It felt heavier than it should for a one hundred-forty pager. I should have taken that as a sign.
As it turns out, the book isn’t as difficult to access as I anticipated. Either that or I’m not as dense as my friend thinks. Or maybe I’m denser and that’s why I appreciate it. All that’s beside the point.
The point is I’m enjoying the read. Actually, that’s not the point. The real point is what I read on the top of page 20.
The thought begins on the bottom of page 19…
“We must also be critical of our tendency to think that worship is limited to the Sunday service we attend. To be sure,”
Amen brother! I turned the page.
“we set aside a time and place for worship, but we do so as a reminder that all times and all places can be occasions of worship. The church building is set aside as God’s house to remind us that every house is God’s house, but how frequently we forget this.”
Wait. That’s what church is?
I never thought it like that before.
I have heard church described as a hospital, where believers come to receive triage or at least lick their wounds and realize that they are not alone when they are facing all the trials and tribulations of the world.
I have read on boards hanging above the exits of churches signs that say: “You are entering the mission field.”
But what if the sign instead read: “Hey! What we just did in here – do that all the time everywhere.”
Church is just a reminder of what life is all about. It’s like sports practice. It’s prep for the game.
What it did was get me thinking: if God’s house is there to remind me that all house’s are God’s, then that really is true for everything I own. I’m eating breakfast right now out of God’s bowl. I’m drinking coffee out of Christ’s mug. I’m sitting on God’s chair, leaning on God’s table, and typing on God’s computer. It’s all his.
Good old Zecharaiah writes about this at the end of his book: “On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty.”
Fitzsimmons Allison (he’s the writer of the dense book) goes on to say: “We forget that if we confine God to a particular building for a particular hour, then we imprison him and successfully remove his presence among us.”
“Instead, all praise and prayer, confession and absolution, hymn and sermon, the Supper and the silence, have been created to inform, influence and enlighten all praise and desires, all guilt and forgiveness, all song and learning, all meals and quiet moments of our total lives.”
This line of thinking has helped me lately with things like tidying and exercise and the way I wash the dishes. It’s holy. All of it.
I’ve been treating my phone like a worship device. I’ve been thinking, this thing is God’s, so how would he like me to use it?
I’ll tell you – a thought like that will change your behavior.
On the other side of this computer is yesterday’s newspaper. It’s covering pretty much a full half of the table. When I was reading it yesterday, the thought that this was God’s paper was the furthest thing from my mind – and it looks that way. Same with my office – boy is it a mess. Same for those thoughts that still come into my head.
Fitz would say: “That’s why we need church.”
We need it to remind us, to teach us, to orient and shape us. We won’t master this thing overnight. Or in a lifetime.
One practical little thing. I live in the south, so wherever I go, I inevitably go by a church or five. I’ve begun a new habit of using these churches as physical reminders to worship God – right here, right now – as I’m driving or walking or running (if you know me). It’s been a fun new practice. I encourage you to join me in it.