If you worship with regularity, you probably run through a checklist before leaving the house. Did I bring the diaper bag for our toddler? Did I set the timer on the oven? Did I bring my Bible, etc.?
In the interest of the best possible worship experience, I am submitting an expanded checklist.
1. BLINDERS: This falls under the category of “not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord…” It makes not a whit of difference if the person in your pew is the city’s most renowned sinner or is very inappropriately attired. It doesn’t matter if the couple in the balcony is sitting way too close to each other. Wear your blinders. Screen out distractions. Overlook your snarky neighbor. Forget the argument you had with Teresa over whether David killed Goliath with a sling or a sword. Concentrate on God.
2. WHOLE SELF: This falls under the category of “you put your whole self in …” Come with all five senses attuned to God. Sing the songs. Pray the prayers. Hear the organ and piano or the drums. Don’t be crabby if the organ is too loud or fume because they allowed somebody to do interpretive dance in church. Come with eyes wide open and heart wide open. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
3. RIGHT SPIRIT: This falls under the category that if you believe you will the only non-hypocrite in the sanctuary, it would be better for you to stay home. Same if you can’t stand to see an offering plate, to hear the name of Jesus spoken or sung, can’t abide a service running five minutes late or are absolutely convinced that God will never work through the all-too-imperfect person in the pulpit. Adjust your attitude as much as possible before entering worship.
4. CHECKBOOK: It is a privilege to be generous. Even the widow who gave two pennies was generous. Don’t let the offering plate pass you by. Don’t ever let it pass you by. And don’t grumble over it. See No. 3.
Here is a short list of things to leave at home:
1. SMART PHONE OR CELL PHONE. If you can’t leave them at home, then leave them in the car in the church parking lot. Churchgoers survived for millennia without smart phones in church. When we walk into the sanctuary, we are attached to God. Detachment from texting, tweeting, emailing, playing games or surfing the Internet is a good thing for the hour of worship.
2. WRISTWATCH: See No. 1. Relating to God is more about eternity than time. Even though some of you believe the hour you spend in worship feels like an eternity, you will be surprised at how quickly the service of worship flies without a watch.
Paying attention to this list will improve worship exponentially. What would be on your worship checklist to bring or to leave at the house?
Creede Hinshaw is a retired Methodist minister living in Macon.