As we prepare for Christmas and think about the birth of our Savior, I think it very appropriate in this Pastor’s Ponderings to talk about the first element of the “Consecration Section” of our worship service. This is one of those places where we sometimes have a visiting missionary speak for a few minutes or where we commission people going out from our midst on short-term mission trips, etc.. So why do we do that kind of thing here? Well our worship services are broken up into three sections; praise, consecration, and communion.
So what is this “consecration” section? First we need to define what consecration means. To be consecrated is to be set apart for holy use. So when we get to consecration there is a purpose in mind for you. This section of the worship service is where we respond to the praise section with “surrendering our lives to Christ.” We do that in a number of ways that will be addressed in following months, but we typically begin with a hymn. This is a hymn of preparation. It is chosen to highlight who we are in Christ. We want to prepare ourselves to worship God by responding to Him with personal commitment. This is a hymn that calls us to do something. People are always looking for things to do, so here we have a chance to further prepare ourselves for what comes next, namely the collection of tithes and offerings, Prayer and Preaching. Each of these things require proper reflection and preparation before we can enter into them with a proper heart attitude. So if you are still reading at this point, Congratulations, you just earned the good reader award! Next time you see me say, I got the good reader award. This will be an interesting way to see how many people are actually reading this stuff. Now, that said, I think this is important so I hope you will find it important as well.
The second hymn is about getting ready. Well you might point out that we have already spent a significant amount of time getting ready. The prelude, preparing our hearts by reflecting on a psalm, call to worship, etc.. That is all about preparing, so what are we doing still preparing as we move into the middle of the worship service? Well, I’m so glad you asked because it is really significant. In many ways the corporate worship service we enjoy each week is a preparation. It is a preparation for God’s people to be able to face the week ahead in the world. It is also a preparation for the worship we will enjoy together for eternity in the new heaven and the new earth. So this is no small thing and coming to it in the right frame of mind and heart is vital.
If you have ever participated in athletic endeavors, you know the value of warming up first. Your muscles need to be stretched and warmed before they will be capable of their full potential. At this point in the worship service all the warming up period is done and we are ready for full exertion. I like to come to places like this because it allows me to praise God for this congregation and the enthusiasm with which it sings. You may not know this, but the number one compliment I receive about our congregation has to do with how well we sing. Good congregational singing reflects hearts that love the Lord and are engaged in worshipping Him. That is a good thing. That means that we are “getting it” when comes to preparation and participation in worship. That is a strength we need to be diligent to maintain.
As I close out this installment of the Pastor’s Ponderings, I would challenge you to think on these things as we move together through the worship service and ask God to help you to worship Him fully. He is worthy of our full attention and affection all the time. Let us make sure we give Him all praise, glory and honor whenever we worship.