Sundays start early for me. Hours before our weekly gathering, I’m at church preparing.
I’ll walk through and offer a prayer for Sunday school classes. I pray for meaningful conversations that lead to new experiences of God’s grace. Then I’ll do some pew praying. That’s when I sit in a different pew and pray for our worship. This reminds me there are real people listening and sharing in what’s happening that day. Part of that prayer is asking God to help me lead the day’s worship faithfully. Then, even as high tech as I like to be, I print my week’s message.
Sometimes, I help with music. So, I take a few minutes to go over the songs myself. Like many, many Sundays before, that’s what I did yesterday.
But yesterday was a different kind of Sunday.
A young man from our church died this weekend. He just finished the fire academy through our community college and started his senior year of high school. He was so, so happy about where his life was heading. Of course, his death shocked us all.
We were to sing a song we’ve shared several times before. It’s a great call to worship the Savior who has done so much for us. The song reminds us we are God’s own, claimed by God and forgiven.
When I got to the final verse by myself, I had to stop. The words of that verse struck my broken heart. No problem, I thought. I’m only playing guitar; I don’t have to sing. Since my daughter sings for us, I figured she’d sing through it. When we both rehearsed together, we found out neither of us could.
So, we didn’t.
We’ll be able to sing that song again. At that moment, though, the pain of losing a friend made it difficult. But we still praised the Savior. The song reminds us why we can as it calls to mind an affirmation of scripture: We are looking for the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:13).
Even though we didn’t sing that song, we still worshiped. God is still worthy of our praise, after all. Even our broken praise. I suppose that is a lesson. All of our worship is broken in some regard. We may not always feel that way. Some Sundays may feel happier than others. But we’re still works in progress. Thankfully, God’s grace carries our broken pieces.
Knowing what God has done and will forever do for us, we can offer a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Even if we can’t sing in the moment, our hearts know the promise of our faith:
Now, the Treasure of my whole life
I will stand soon by Your own side
Says the Savior, “Welcome home child!”
Praise the Savior, Jesus