[#pictureLent] March 17: WORSHIP

By Abigail Parker Herrera
Deacon at Servant Church and Young People’s Ministries
Austin, TX

First, read Psalm 95:6-7 

In the Common English version of this text, it ends with the words “If only you would listen to his voice right now!” Right now.   

If you’re a child of the 80’s, those words may instantly transport you to a scene in the movie Labyrinth. I could see the character of Sarah saying, “I wish the goblins would come and take you away. Right now.” Absolute silence follows as her brother vanishes. Right now.

I also thought of a gospel song I like to sing LOUDLY called “The Presence of the Lord is Here”, sung by Byron Cage. He, like the Psalmist, leads us into worship, telling us to lift our voices, our hands, to bow before God, and praise the Lord because God’s very presence is here. The choir then sings, “I can feel the presence of the Lord and I’m gonna get my blessing right now.” Right now.

My ministry is devoted to working with marginalized groups, many of whom seem to be in hopeless situations. Sometimes I feel that way for our United Methodist Church, for our nation. More and more I find myself whispering in prayer the words, “How long O Lord? We need you to fix this.” And then, I pause … 

I breathe … and sometimes I fearfully invoke the words, “right now.”

I’m always a little hesitant to say the words “right now” because I’m invoking the immediate power of God. I know it’s what I should want, I say it’s what I want, but if I say “right now” it means everything in that instant must be different. Am I really ready for that? Do I really want God to change all that I know, to change me, right now? 

Sometimes we describe our worship gatherings as a taste of what is to come when Christ has the final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet forever. Our gatherings are imperfect reflections of that victory feast and often they are a place where we practice true worship. We are making ourselves ready for the day when all will change, even ourselves. We are becoming a people who can say, “God, I give everything to you. Right now.” 

In worship, we remember the right order of things.  We remember, as the Psalmist says, that we are God’s. We are God’s sheep in God’s pasture, with God’s very breath in our lungs.  The Spirit of the Lord is in us, longing to be cried out in a great “Alleluia!” Longing to bless each and every one of us, right now.

If only we would listen to God’s voice. Right now.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. What are the places you long for God to heal? In your life? In your community? In the world? 
2.  What are you afraid God will change?  What sin do you cling to or what do you like about this life that you know can’t be present when Christ finally comes in victory? 
3.  Where do you see the Spirit of the Lord at work, right now?