After the hymn

One memory I have cherished during the past year was what happened right as the pandemic began to set in for everyone. It was at our church.

We had prayed for and planned to begin a Dinner Church worship gathering. I can’t tell you how excited I was about that. I’m pretty sure I tried to tell you in a devotional or two along the way.

One of the last activities our church did before we stopped meeting was Dinner Church. I recall sharing communion and a meal with everyone. We sang praise to God as a family of God.

I don’t recall what we sang. I only remember everyone standing, many with smiles on their faces as we did. Do you remember seeing the people you love smile, not wearing a mask?

You may have a similar memory in mind. Maybe it was a Sunday morning worship gathering that lifted your soul. God works in small group studies and prayer groups in the same way.

None of us leave those moments with the intention of deserting Jesus. It’s quite the opposite, isn’t it? The old hymn says, “I’d stay in the garden with him, though the night around me be falling.” We love these moments of worship and holy inspiration. But we’ll have to step away from the table to go into the world.

What happens then?

How far does our praise take us?

Peter and the other disciples were with Jesus right before he was arrested, praising God. According to Mark, Jesus waited until after their order of worship to drop the hammer on them. Some translations say when they had sung “the” hymn. Others say “a” hymn. That difference intrigues me. It was then, after their worship, Jesus told them he knew they would desert him. His sheep would scatter. 

Of course, I don’t mean that how you and I fail Jesus leads to his arrest and death. When we read of the disciples’ scattering, it is a telling of a particular group’s failure of discipleship. But we have our own failures, don’t we?

What I’m reflecting on today is how spiritually encouraged and filled the disciples might have felt. I know there were other feelings that final night Jesus spent with them. But they all still lifted their voices in praise.

And they all guaranteed Jesus they would never desert him.

Indeed, none of us leave a worship gathering eager to deny our Lord. What if I offered you this benediction before you left, “Go in peace. You’ll need it because you will deny Jesus.”

Moreover, we’re not always keen on acknowledging our discipleship failures. It’s easier to recognize Peter’s lofty sense of pride than our own.

I want you to examine your walk with God. Where have you, in your own way, denied Christ? failed to walk in his way? followed your own will rather than God’s?

There’s no sense denying our denials. There’s freedom in recognizing when and how we fail to be obedient followers of Jesus. When you’re forgiven, it makes that next worship song all the more meaningful.

Stay blessed…john

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