It isn’t in my make-up not to go to church. I was taught at an early age that I honoured the third commandment by going to church; illness being the only exception. And so I get up and get ready for church, all the while moaning and groaning that I don’t want to go to church; I don’t feel like going to church. The childish whining continues all the way to church and doesn’t stop even as I sit in my pew. I bow my head to pray and instead of asking for the Holy Spirit’s presence as I worship I still complain: “Lord, I don’t want to be here; I don’t feel like being here.” There is no immediate, audible response from the heavenly realms.
And then I hear the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And I respond, “Amen.” Wow! I am roused out of my funk—I am in the presence of God, the great “I Am”—the God who is the Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth. I am in the presence of the God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; in the presence of God who sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to suffer, die and rise again from the dead so that my sins would be forgiven. I am in the presence of the God who hears and answers my prayers; who provides all my needs; who has promised me eternal life. I am on holy ground. It is time to worship, to give thanks, to rejoice in His love. It is time to be strengthened, renewed in Him. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people” (Psalm 116:13, 17-18). I wouldn’t want to be any other place than in His house.
My husband received an invitation to attend a function at Rideau Hall, the home of Canada’s Governor General. Along with his invitation he was sent instructions as to acceptable dress, a guide as to protocol and proper etiquette upon meeting and mingling with the honoured and distinguished guests and even directions as to how and where to park his car.
God’s invitation is much less complicated; it simply reads, Come as you are; “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).
He is the waiting host. As the hymn writer attests, “God Himself is Present: let us now adore Him And with awe appear before Him. God is in His temple; All within keep silence; Humbly kneel in deepest reverence. He alone On His throne Is our God and Saviour; Praise His name forever!” (vs. 1, LSB #907) What an honour, what a privilege it is for me to go to church, to worship our God and Saviour—to be in His presence! To meet with my sisters and brothers in Christ as we follow Paul’s advice, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16 NIV).
What a difference the simple, yet powerful, words of the Invocation make. I have gone from not wanting to be present in His house; not feeling like being there to joyfully echoing the words of David, the Psalmist, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).
VIEWPOINT from Tapestry, Winter 2012
by Anne Taylor, a member of St. Luke LWMLC, Ottawa and assistant editor of Tapestry.
For more about Tapestry visit www.lutheranwomen.ca/share/tapestry.