One of the challenges of working on Sunday morning is being able to worship at another time of the week. If you can go to church on Sunday morning it is relatively easy to go from church to church until you find a place where you are able to worship. If you can’t go on Sunday morning, your choices are automatically narrowed. The number of churches having services at times other than Sunday morning goes way down.
We have had two choices here at Grand Portage and I have written about both of them. We have been attending the Hovland Trinity Lutheran Church because we are able to worship there. The Vesper services can be pretty short, and the liturgy sometimes feels odd, but it is quiet and beautiful and you can feel the presence of God.
Feeling the presence of God is the essence of worship for me. I am able to worship when I am outdoors, when I am by myself, or when I am reading scripture. But for me, worshiping has always been most powerful in a corporate setting. If I worship by myself there are too many things that can get in the way of feeling the presence of God. When I worship with others, there is almost always something – a moment, a spark, the inspiration of someone else – that allows me to worship.
There are times when there are too many distractions in corporate worship for us to feel the presence of God. Children running around uncontrolled, people talking through the prayers or the prelude, anger toward someone in the congregation or someone in the family, a boring preacher are all things that can keep us from worshiping. Most often, the issues that keep us from worshiping are things we carry in our own hearts: anger, jealousy, unresolved fights, stress, burdens.
If you have found a congregation where you are able to feel the presence of God, give thanks and do your best to be an inspiration to others. If you have not found a congregation where you are able to worship, ask yourself why. Is the fault in the congregations around you or is it something you are carrying with you? Have you attended worship with a heart open to receiving the Holy Spirit or experiencing the presence of God?
Being able to worship is a joy and blessing. Feeling the presence of God among others on a regular basis can be the greatest gift of our lives.