Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guess Whose Coming to Church?

I had a wonderful (albeit busy) Resurrection Weekend. I hope you did as well. The president and his family also attended a Resurrection service this past Sunday at Allen Chapel Church in southeast D.C. neighborhood. When the early word got out that the president would be attending, people started lining up outside at 3 a.m. to get a good spot in the 700 seat sanctuary. I've heard of sunrise services, but that's pretty early. Late comers who maybe hadn't heard the president would be there were turned away because the sanctuary was full.

I have a friend who use to attend the church where Cris Carter's family attended in the Twin Cities. They had children the same age and he would visit with his wife. One Sunday I told the congregation I was serving that Cris Carter would be coming to speak at our service the next week. I told the people about my friend who went to Carter's church, which allowed me to make the connection. I put a flyer in the bulletin about it and people were all abuzz with excitement. I mentioned the news during the Sunday morning announcements and encouraged people to invite friends. People were talking about who they could invite and how they could publicize it. When I started my sermon I made a confession- Cris Carter would not be attending our service the following week; however, Jesus Christ would be. The congregation got the point.

Why do people flock to church and wait for hours to get in when someone famous will be there, but find it a struggle to make it to church if it's just going to be Jesus there? One reason may be that people don't really believe Jesus is there. You can't see Him, hear Him, or touch Him like you can some famous person in the flesh. Yet, Jesus promised that wherever two or three gathered in His name there He would be in their midst. He doesn't lie, so He must be present when we gather on Sundays. But still, Jesus alone doesn't seem to draw the crowds are garner the excitement like other famous people. Why is that?

Perhaps we are so familiar with Jesus that we don't think it's a big deal. Isn't Jesus with us always? So what's the big deal about attending church? I don't think it's our familiarity with Jesus that creates an indifference toward church, but rather our unfamiliarity with Jesus. The fact that we know Jesus so little makes us non-chalant about worshiping him with our church family on Sundays. The more we get to know Him, the more passionate we will be about gathering together and worshiping Him.

The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 5:4, "When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus is present..."

The Lord Jesus is present in a powerful way when we gather as a body of believers in His name, but perhaps we are not recognizing that truth. Or perhaps, we are are not gathering in His name, but gathering for other reasons. Maybe we just gather to visit friends, to enjoy some singing, or maybe at times to see someone famous.

ABC news asked some of the congregants at Allen Chapel Church what they thought it would be like if the president started attending regularly. Marcella Goodie said, "It would be a little overwhelming because some people would not be coming for the Word. They would just be coming for him."

This Sunday we won't be having any famous guests like the president visiting our church, but Jesus the Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the Redeemer, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Defeater of death, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Light of the World, the Great High Priest and the Ultimate Sacrifice, the Word made flesh, the Intercessor, the Advocate, the Defender, the Solid Rock, the all Sufficient One, "I AM" plans on being there. So I hope you are able to make it as well. I know He would love to meet you there.

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