I remember when I first heard the word ‘juxtaposition’ used in a sentence. To this day, I never use it because I think it sounds snooty. But, Sunday has become just that: a contrast of two opposites at the same time. On Sunday, I now and forever will feel sour and sweetness, hope and despair, joy and anger, ‘dream way’ and ‘dead end’ at the same time. Corporate Worship with the saints on Sunday reminds me of years and years punching the time clock with my dad. Like Sanford and Son, though many miles apart, yet, my dad and I worked side-by-side preaching the gospel, shepherding and discipling the saints, evangelizing the lost. I sorely miss my Monday reviews talking with my dad how things went on Sunday.
Each Lord’s day was like working with my dad. And now that he’s no longer working with me, I feel very alone in the shop that we once milled about. Sunday brings this out: a feeling that feels like my right arm is missing but I must raise it anyway. It’s very hard to do something when you feel like a piece of you is missing. And this brings me to saying something to you, dear reader:
When your Sunday becomes your hardest day of the week, it just might be a mixed blessing. Why? Because Christ-centered worship exposes what is broken with this world, and you need to be reminded weekly of that brokenness lest you become too infatuated with the false hope that this world offers. People who spend their Sunday sleeping in, then get up and make a late breakfast, attend a local baseball game, start eating burgers by mid afternoon, stop by the grocery store to pick up a few copies of the latest tabloid scoop at the check-out, spend 3 hours on social media getting all whacked out over politics, wrap the day up purchasing a few lottery tickets and going to sleep midway through the latest Redbox fair, NEVER feel the awful weight of their sin and the consequences of sin – death. And consequently, NEVER feel the awesome hope that is found in Christ’s forgiveness of sin and his death-defying Resurrection. Sunday is now my hardest day of the week because worship exposes the deep, deep loss that comes with living in this world.
When I hear ‘Tis So sweet to trust in Jesus’ – it now hurts because my need to trust in Jesus is more urgent than before my dad died. When we sing ‘In Christ Alone My Hope is Found’ it now hurts more deeply because I feel more deeply my need to put even more hope in Christ alone. When on Sunday morning we read together, “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4), it is like a knife in my heart because I feel more deeply the present impact of “the former things” having lost my dad. Do not be surprised then if Sunday becomes your hardest day of the week. But there it is: you will find it your most hopeful day of the week at the same time. Why? Because what worship exposes as loss it also then offers the greatest hope: Christ really does become your all in all. Christ becomes sweeter the more you lose in this life.
So dear reader, if the losses in this life are beginning to pile up, and you feel like skipping church because it reminds you now of that loss on a deeper level, you are prime for putting even more hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t let the awful pain of loss deter you from the very worship that exposes your need to put more hope in Christ. Your Joy depends on it.