Please come to the services on time.
I know, I know, you have kids, stuff, a late Saturday night, a world of reasons why. Still you can arrange, change, and set the alarm clock early if you really want to. You do this for work. You do this when you have tickets to a concert or pro sports event. You do this for a date. Why not for God?
Let me explain.
Would it make sense to you to come to a movie towards the end just so you can slip in and see the finish? Would you try to slide into a chair at the conference table at work just so the boss would notice you’ve at least arrived?
So why come late to church?
Perhaps you think you already know what’s going on, what’s going to be said, what’s the next item on the agenda. Truthfully, if you pay attention to the services of the Church you’ll realize it’s not all the same all the time. Yes the basic structure, tested by centuries of experience in worship, may be the same but the hymns, the readings, all of that is different depending on what day it is and what we’re calling to mind. Try listening. Try participating. You’ll be surprised at what you discover.
Maybe its just a cultural thing. After all, people wandered in late back in the old country so it must be the way things are, right? Wrong. A bad habit doesn’t get a special blessing just because it comes from the old country.
Then, again, it could be about everything just being plain boring. Yet the bottom line is that the services of the Church, or any church, are as boring as the people who are in attendance. If your heart is cold towards God and holy things no amount of fireworks, smoke, or loud music will warm it up. If you struggle with being in the presence of God for an hour or so once a week consider pondering what that says about how you and God are really relating. God hasn’t changed, so what’s different?
The truth is simple.
If you understand your Orthodox Faith correctly you realize that worship is the most important thing we do. Everything in our life flows from our awe and reverence of God and any time we can stand in His presence is holy time, unique, special, and of eternal importance. There is a blessing in worship, just being in the presence of the Holy can eternally change us. Worship calls us from a crazy world to the one place where there is sanity, the presence of God. Worship, when we are truly engaged in it, helps us to understand who we are and what we’re supposed to be. Worship is deliberately attempting to be with the One for whom, and by whom, we were made and as we make the attempt that God encounters us as well. Right worship is built right into our name “Ortho-dox” and without it we are meaningless.
So here’s the challenge.
Make the effort to get to all the services of the Church on time, early is even better. No more excuses, no more shading the edges, no more waiting until just before the Gospel is read so you can slip in and get the “prize” of the Eucharist like God’s love was some sort of Cracker Jack box.
Change yourself. Change your heart. Struggle if you have to, but just do it. And as you do don’t be surprised when you start seeing things in an entirely new way, God’s way, and you begin to realize that this Christian “stuff” is for real.