Thursday, September 5, 2013

Worship and The Little Red Hen

The Church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg, Germany
     One of my all time favorite stories when I was growing up was based on an old Russian folk tale entitled "The Little Red Hen".  The story is about a hen who finds a grain of wheat and asks all her animal friends to help her plant that seed.  No one volunteers so she does the work herself.  Later, as each stage of the process went along (harvesting, threshing and milling the grain into flour), she asked her friends for help but none were interested.  When the time came for her to bake the bread, she inquired once again, "Who will help me eat the bread?"  This time all of her friends volunteered.  However, the little red hen told them that since none of them had been willing to help, she and her chicks would enjoy the fruits of her labor and they ate it all up.  Not hard to get the point of this story is it?  If we put our effort into an activity, we reap the benefits in the end.
     When it comes to our worship in the church are we more like the little red hen or more like her friends who passed the opportunity by?  To put it another way, do we take seriously our part in the worship of God as we come to church each week?  Most folks think that just making the effort to be in church is really all there is to the process, but there is much more to it than that.
      While our pastors are ordained and called to preach, teach, administer the sacraments of baptism and communion as well as lead in disciplining
the Body of believers, we followers of the Lord are to be prepared even before we come to church to hear, receive and meditate on God's Word.  An attitude of expectancy, of knowing that we are going to meet with the Lord in worship goes a long way in opening our hearts to receive His truth.  Preparation, then, is key.  Prayer for the pastor(s), for the choir or musicians, and reading God's Word prior to church is a good way to begin.
     Once we come into the Lord's House, we need to enter in to the service.  We need to be attentive, respectful, and lay up God's treasures as we hear the music played, the scriptures read, prayer
requests lifted up and especially to the preaching of God's Word.  In church, we are all participants not just spectators.  Whether we possess a singing voice or not, we need to attempt to sing the hymns and spiritual songs as though we were in the very presence of God....because we are!  Listen to the prelude and the postlude and do not be so quick to dismiss the ministry of music for this, too, is an important part of the service.  In addition to the music, shut out distractions when the time for the preaching of the Word comes.   Personally, I have found that taking notes during the sermon helps me retain more of what is being taught.  I can look at these notes after church and reflect on the message and scriptures.
      When it comes to the Lord's Supper, it is even more important to examine ourselves, confess our sins and prepare to renew that covenant between the Lord and us.  Being attentive to this meal makes us more aware of the cost of our sins.  There is no room for passivity when it comes to worshipping God our Savior.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians who seemed to take lightly the celebration of communion (I Corinthians 11:17-34).  He is careful to describe the proper celebration and then he warns the believers in verses 27-29:  "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."  Those are stern words of warning which we need to take seriously.
     Jesus made two important points when considering our time in worship before the Living God.  First, He commanded us to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind (Matt. 22:37) and secondly, we are to worship the Lord in Spirit and truth as He told the woman at the well (John 4:23b).  Our Lord also taught us to pray and by His life set the example of worshipping God on a consistent basis.
     At this point, we have to ask ourselves, "Am I going to church to be entertained and do nothing or am I going to enter into the service focusing on the worship of God for His glory and my instruction?  We can be industrious like the little red hen and be prepared to enjoy the blessing of meeting with the Lord or we can be passive like the hen's animal friends and miss the fruit that comes from laboring in worship with heart, soul and mind.  I pray that for each of us we will take seriously the time we spend before the Face of God each week.  Let us pray for our pastors, our music directors, our choirs and most of all, pray for our own heart attitudes that when we come together we will bless God in true worship.  Selah!

     For those of you who would like to dig into a deeper understanding of worship, I have been reading a wonderful book written by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether entitled "With Reverence and Awe".  The book can be purchased in paperback at

Do not forget to visit to read another story in the series "Women in Scripture" tomorrow.

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