I’ve been asked to write an article on where do I see God in my everyday life. I understand the question to mean where in the work-a-day world or where in family life or recreation I am most likely to encounter God. Or where in God’s glorious creation, the mountains, the beach, or some such place, God might best be revealed. While I believe the question to be a helpful and thoughtful one, I’ll try to respond to that another day.
For I am a Pastor, and my everyday life revolves around the church and the church has understood that the primary place we see God is in worship. And while worship can happen anywhere and can be a time for one individual to commune with God, the church also understands that God is especially seen in corporate worship, when the community of faith gathers together.
Now this is exactly what you would expect a Pastor to say and thus I haven’t disappointed. But let me go on to say why I believe our Sunday worship is where I best see God. You might expect me to say the sermon, and while that is where I spend most of my time in preparation, it isn’t where I most expect to see God on a Sunday morning.
Of course, I hope you might discern God at work from time to time in a sermon, but if so, that may be in spite of the preacher and not because of the preacher!
Instead of the sermon, one of the places I most expect to see God in corporate worship is in the Assurance of Forgiveness, the place where a Pastor or Liturgist concludes a sentence or two of Scripture with these words, “Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!”
Has that ever been true for you? Perhaps one of you will come into worship someday, wondering if you really ought to be in church feeling the way you feel. Maybe there’s some unfinished business at home or at the office. And you will hear these same words of pardon, “Friends, believe the good news of the gospel. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!” and maybe on that particular occasion, bells will ring and doors open and confetti will fall from the sky, and those words – those repeated, familiar, homely little words – will have power as never before! We’re not always sure about it, but these words we use, these words of faith, have a power to change the reality of things! We are indeed given another chance, reconciled, redeemed.
The other place in corporate worship I most see God comes again from Scripture and it’s the last words spoken in the service- the Charge and Benediction. “Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold onto what is good; return no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the suffering; love and honor all people, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever. Amen.”
Again, they’re just simple words. But they challenge us out of our complacency to live in the week to come as a disciple of Jesus Christ and they remind us that the power to do so comes as a gift from God in Christ. To live in such a way, my friends, is the most counter-cultural, revolutionary, life-giving and life-changing thing we can ever do.
Rev. William Ingersoll
Interim Pastor/Head of Staff
October 31, 2017