Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Christians Awake"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)
In many churches, the traditional ways of worship have changed. The order of service is not as rigid as it used to be. Some ministers interact with the congregation, and some people even reply. There was a time when we did not laugh in church. It was just not done. Going to church was serious business. Music has changed a lot, as well. The tradition of the organ leading the congregation in the singing of hymns has in many cases changed to a piano or a praise team leading the singing of contemporary music.
The book about the history of the Presbyterians in Meaford tells us that there were a lot of potluck suppers and other social gatherings in those early days. Due to the busyness of people in other activities now, that has changed as well.
But the one thing that is still the centrepiece of Christian worship is the sermon. Preachers spend a lot of time preparing their weekly homily. They do a lot of research and study to present the teachings of the Bible, and they quite often use life experiences to make a theological point.
Not long ago, I saw a television interview with a young woman who had been going to church off and on her whole life, and yet, she felt that there was something missing. She talked about it and prayed about it. She said that she went to church, sang the hymns, stayed for the time of fellowship after the service, and took part in certain church-related activities, but she felt empty. Then one Sunday during the service, it dawned on her that she had not been listening to the sermon. She heard the words, but she did not really listen.
From that day on, she made it a point to listen, not just with her ears and her mind, but also with her heart. Then, she came to believe the teachings of Jesus and the words of the Bible. The life lessons as presented by the minister became an important guide in her daily activities.
Jesus Himself said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28 NKJV)
During the Christmas season, many people who do not usually come to church will hear the Christmas story, perhaps for the first time. Many others have heard it before, but didn't grasp its significance. We need to pray that it will be presented in such a way that they will hear, understand, and believe. For those of us who are entirely familiar with the story, we need to pray that we will hear something new that will speak to our hearts.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for those who bring the message of Christ to so many people in different countries and in different languages. Enable them to present it in a way that is easy to understand. May those who hear it truly listen and believe. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.