I’m an up-front kind of girl—of the church that is. Every Sunday my husband, boys and I walk right up to about the second row of the sanctuary and make ourselves at home. Immersed in worship I push the distraction of others behind me and enter into communion with our Lord. We sit so close that one time another church member joked “You keep moving up and you’re going to have to preach the sermon!” I’m comfortable in the front, maybe a little too comfortable.
Worship from the Back Row
Awhile back my husband was asked to serve as a “safety officer” during worship. Every so often, our family would have to move to the back of the church, and I mean the last row so that he could safely observe the congregation in full view. I was not so eager about that part of the commitment. Did you catch the beginning paragraph where I listed all the reasons I love the front row? Did you notice a recurring theme? Me, right? What I wanted, what I felt I needed during worship. Oh, the distractions we would face! My self-absorbed spirit was crushed as I thought of all the visual annoyances I would have to push aside in order to worship. In God’s magnificent providence, he gently turned my sin-filled spirit from one of begrudging a change in scenery, to a beautiful picture of his bride, the church.
As I slid in next to my husband in the last row of the sanctuary my eyes wandered to the people around me. So. Many. People. I had an immense sense of trepidation as to what the next hour of worship would hold. If I could find it this easy to wander my eyes, would my heart and spirit follow? Could I even worship with all this spiritual noise before me? Self-absorbed and truly wanting for God’s grace, I made each minute more about myself. I could not have been more devoid of the welcoming and loving presence of my Savior I was supposed to be worshipping. But instead of chastising me, or worse, leaving me to wallow in self-pity, the Lord graciously painted a portrait of how he sees his sheep in the Son-drenched pasture of worship.
The Bride Worships
I saw a woman struggling with debilitating pain throughout her body break down in tears during the opening call to worship. Another woman from our Bible Study small group noticed and scurried over to put her arm around her, comforting her with a tissue and her own empathetic tears…