Last Sunday, early in the morning I was praying and reflecting upon the worship service for the day. Two of the songs that had been selected were, “Resurrection Hymn” – by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and “Nothing But the Blood” by Robert Lowry (though we were doing an adapted version of the song by Page CXVI). The joy and celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ should never eclipse the suffering of the cross – and this should inform and shape our worship. What should not happen on Sunday morning is this: Cost-less Celebration. How many churches advertise, “Come Celebrate” and yet choreograph a worship service that does not bring the people to the cross but rather to a man-centered pep rally. Celebration of what God has done in raising his son from the dead is exhilarating and we would be the most pitiful if he had not. But celebration on Sunday morning did not come cheap. It cost Jesus’ life. Why? Because God must be seen as Just. Something had to be done to my sins in the most final way possible, lest the Judge of the Universe seem unfit and inept to sit on the throne (Romans 3:20ff). And now that he is just he can also remain just when he pardons me by faith in Christ.
Imagine standing at the foot of the cross with a bag of popcorn in hand. You crunch and munch unfeelingly, yet steadily. Slide the half-eaten bag under your left arm – hold firmly so as not to drop the precious stuff on the ground. Reach for your cell-phone in your back pocket with your right hand. And with buttery fingers text your friend that couldn’t make it to the show: “dude – omg, i think he’s dead. want to catch a movie this evening?”
Sometimes I think this is what we pastors and worship leaders unintentionally do on Sunday morning. We are bored with the cross and it is no wonder that our people can’t stomach the weight, the scandal, the fury, and the glory of the cross; it’s easier and more popular to celebrate than to contemplate.
My Prayer for this Lord’s Day:
“Dear Sweet Jesus, Sunday morning is coming again – yes, a time to celebrate your risen life and ours too – but popcorn and the cross don’t mix. Cause our hearts to yearn for what we have in Christ, starting at the cross. And guard our worship from half-hearted dribble that yawns in your presence – O please, not on Sunday morning. Open our eyes to see that the glory of the Cross is, as Robert Lowry put it, “all our righteousness – nothing but the blood of Jesus,” then let this horrific truth fuel the hurray of our worship. In Jesus precious name, Amen.”