Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I was reading Tim Ellsworth's blog today (www.timellsworth.com) and he brings up a great point that I think is well worth mentioning here.

For years I thought that I was the only person who saw a church "service" centered around July 4th, Memorial Day or even Mothers or Fathers day as darn near idolatrous. I'm serious. How many churches place these secular ‘holidays’ as the theme for their entire “worship service”? I can not stand it and I don’t follow suit. This is no surprise to my readers from our Southside family, I'm sure you notice that I might say something like "Happy Father's Day" during my pre-worship welcome but that's about it.

When I was the pastor of a traditional church in Copley I really got people mad at me when I removed the American and “Christian” flags from off the platform. I saw and still do see no place for secular symbols (being secular does not make it bad, it just means that it has no direct spiritual purpose) within the context of the sacred act of worship. That, for a couple of them, was just about “the last straw” with me, as far as they were concerned.

I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that kind of traditionalism anymore. Maybe it’s because we have reached so many younger people who do not have the baggage of a traditional church upbringing. My people, the people the Lord has placed in my care to pastor, show up each week to learn more about God by simply learning the Bible (verse by verse) and they show up to experience God in a real way through the corporate singing of prayers and praise to Him and by remembering His death each week through Holy Communion. They show up to learn about what God has done, how it applies to their lives now and how they can express their thanks to Him. Period.

Is that not the purpose of the church gathering together on the Lord's Day anyway? Paul taught the Colossian church that when the body gathers together we are to… “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. " Colossians 3:12-16 niv

I'll leave you with Ellsworth's small blog on the issue, I think it is well worth your consideration. Please leave feedback, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.

"I can’t begin to describe how much I detest the “God and country” worship services taking place in most churches this weekend. Yes, I’m thankful to God for the way he’s blessed the United States, and I’m thankful for living in a place where we enjoy the freedoms we do. I’m also thankful and deeply appreciative for the sacrifices so many have made to secure these freedoms.

But there is a proper place to recognize these sacrifices and honor our country, and a worship service on Sunday morning isn’t it. A worship service is supposed to be about honoring Almightly God for the redemption He has provided through our Lord Jesus Christ. We should be worshipping God, not the United States. At the church I was going to attend this morning (not the church we normally attend), I went to Sunday School but didn’t stay for worship when I saw the songs that were going to be sung — including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” — and that the congregation was going to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance” during the service. I didn’t feel like vomiting in church, because civil religion like this churns my stomach. It diverts praise rightly due God to the United States, and that’s idolatry."

1 comment:

Naomi said...

That's true!