How to Get Ready for Sunday
When do you get ready for Sunday morning and going to church (or whenever you do church online with us)? "Most of us start getting ready when we wake up on Sunday morning and it involves things like taking a shower, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and combing hair, putting on something nice looking and comfortable for church. I have a suggestion for you that could make Sunday morning a very different kind of experience each week. What if we prepared ourselves for worship spiritually as well as physically? Often times the only preparation we do for worship spiritually happens during the 5-minute prelude to the start of the service. What if it began the night before?
John Newton, the 18th-century Anglican cleric and abolitionist, had a Saturday at 6 p.m. exercise to help him get ready for Sunday. It was his way of being ready to worship before he ever left to go to church.
It had three parts. The first part was to make two lists — all the mercies, blessings and good things to be thankful for that had happened to him that week. And second, a list of sins — of omission and commission — he had committed against others and God.
He didn't use the second list to beat himself up, to think to himself, "I'm such a horrible Christian." Instead he used it to reflect on the discrepancy between God's goodness to him and his behavior. This helped him get a refreshed joy in God's free, undeserved grace.
I was recently listening to a young man talk about his experience of his former evangelical church and how his sins were constantly being lifted up and thrown in his face. He was constantly told of his unworthiness before God. Church beat him down rather than lifted him up. We all fall short…this is a great truth, but truth without grace is destructive to the soul. If you decide to try John Newton's preparation for worship process be sure to use it as he did. Understand that we all fall short…and then rejoice in a gospel that says "I love you unconditionally."
This leads to the third and best part: a re-dedication of his life to Christ. The experience of God's blessings despite our shortfalls should lead us to a refreshing and deepening commitment to reflect God's love, grace, and mercy in our lives and trust even more in God's promises. Knowing how God treats you gently should inspire you to treat those around you more gently as well. The goal of our lives should be to glorify God by being just a little bit better a little bit more of the time in the day and week ahead. Sunday is the gathering of those who are on the journey with you.
Thanks for journeying with me each week and if you don't have a way to prepare to worship give John Newton's system a try and let me know how it goes for you. If you have another way to come to church ready to worship let me know what you do. I would love to know.