Preparing for Worship (part 4): 3 Things All Worshipers Can Learn from Children

What does your Sunday look like? Do you enter a new week invigorated or drained; renewed or discouraged?

How do sports and worship intersect? This image acknowledges that all of life is covered by the cross.

I was recently talking to a pastor friend about the way sports mania has invaded Sunday mornings for kids and family. I’ve seen numerous families have to make tough decisions about the priority of sports vs. worship I would suggest that is a false dichotomy–the real issue is the priority of worship, not the timing of worship.

This makes me wonder: what priority do most believers place on the Sabbath? I’m not going to enter the fray at this time over a strict Sabbatarian view vs. a more liberal view. You can find a wide range of opinions including this, this¬†and this list of books on Sabbath.

As I hinted in an earlier post, I think its important to rest from your work and normal diversions. Jesus was quick to remind us that the Sabbath is for man and so we aren’t to be bound up in fear over how well we’re keeping the rules (one of the Pharisees’ many troubles). Instead, the Sabbath is meant to give us life.

When we teach our kids how to cross busy streets, we use the saying, “Stop, look and listen.” As it relates to Sunday worship, I encourage you to do the same!

1. Stop Working

Another pastor friend was told by his doctor to leave his smart phone at his desk when he goes to bed and takes a break during the day. Smart devices create a constant adrenalin rush that leaves your body in a state of alert. Over time this creates hypertension and the inability to focus more deeply. So turn off your mobile devices on the sabbath for an agreed upon period of time.

I appreciate Vicki Beeching and her emphasis on connectivity through social media in worship, but I wonder if the use of social media in worship creates superficial connections? In response, Vicki asks some good questions on how Twitter may be dumbing down our notion of followership.

If you’re not familiar with Vicki’s music, check out her song The Wonder of the Cross:

A more obvious ramification of the principle of stopping our work is just that–stop working. Many people have shifted their work to virtual offices. The result is that it’s increasingly difficult to leave our work. It follows us everywhere.

As crazy as his book title sounds, Tim Ferris has some outstanding principles in The 4-Hour Work Week. My favorite is to limit how often you check and respond to emails.

For the sake of your soul, sanity and family, leave your work behind once a week for 24 hours. It’s also a good idea to take longer vacations. A co-worker recently suggested that every 5 years it’s a good idea to take a 4 week break from your life so that you can get perspective on everything you’re doing. Why is it that only pastors and educators get a sabbath? Just saying…

2. Look at Your Life as You Rest

Take a nap. Go to a spa. Get out in the country and breathe in the fresh air. Do something that reinvigorates your faith and passion. And do this weekly.

How have you been living recently? Evaluate your priorities and commitments. Are you doing the things that are most important to you?

Look around you and allow yourself to fall down in amazement at God’s grace and beauty. I recently read in Acts where Peter and John healed a crippled man. Everyone present that day was amazed and many came to saving faith. Yet, I had to go back and re-read that passage, because I glossed over it due to familiarity. Let your heart become amazed again at God’s work!

If you’ve never heard of Marty Goetz, you’re missing out! He writes amazing biblical songs with a Messianic Jewish flavor. Check out his Sabbath Prayer.

3. Listen to the Spirit

A goal of scripture reading and prayer is to hear the Spirit’s promptings in your life–both his rebukes and his encouragements. It’s important to do this alone and in community.

Too often we attend worship services and put on our evaluator’s cap. “The pastor made some good points this morning.” “I liked the music today, except that song by ‘Suzie.'” What if we took time to just let God speak? And then we actually did what He told us to do?

This reminds me of the Mary vs. Martha narrative. Martha was preoccupied with busywork, whereas Mary took time to stop working and be with Jesus. God gave us six days to work. What if we actually sat with Jesus on the seventh day?

Your Turn

How do you get Sabbath rest? Tell me below…

About Phil Mershon

Phil is an ordained Presbyterian pastor, experienced worship leader, former missionary, and director of events for Social Media Examiner (see LinkedIn profile). He holds degrees in theology, counseling, music and economics. His passion is helping the church follow her calling in worship that is thoughtful, passionate and excellent, and leading churches toward cultural engagement. Follow his tweets: @called_2worship and @phil_mershon
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6 Responses to Preparing for Worship (part 4): 3 Things All Worshipers Can Learn from Children

  1. Pingback: More on Planning Worship, via Called to Worship | The Liturgy Fellowship

  2. dschram says:

    The song Sabbath Prayer is from “Fiddler on the Roof”. I don’t think he wrote that one. Also, please do not call Sunday the Sabbath because it is not. Jesus is “Lord of the Sabbath” and anticipated his followers keeping the Sabbath when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70.

    • pmershon says:

      thanks for your comments. you are correct in saying
      Marty didn’t write Sabbath Prayer. it’s actually a tradtional song tgat Fiddler made popular.

      Jesus fulfilled and redefined the Sabbath, but there is much debate over the significance of 70AD. the defining event is the resurrection, which is why we now celebrate the Lord’s Day (also called Sabbath by many) on Sunday. Jesus did not abolish the 10 commandments, so I will continue to use the term as he used-a day of rest.

  3. dschram says:

    He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath, the disciples and the women rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. The seventh day is the Sabbath.

    • pmershon says:

      I just noticed that I never responded to this second reply of yours. I’m sorry.

      Many theologians have studied the issue of the historicity of the Sabbath and it’s theological implications. I was trying to avoid those waters and focus our thoughts on the role of a day of weekly rest in the life of worshipping believers. The author of Hebrews still calls this Sabbath rest. For the most part, Christians have continued to co-mingle the terms Sabbath and the Lord’s Day. I recognize this can be confusing for some and I wasn’t trying to confuse or use the word Sabbath with the precision that some might require for other contexts. I hope that helps refocus our conversation on how we prepare for weekly worship.

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