I sit here in the inter-service break, reflecting on the early service and planning toward the late. The early service was, by human analysis, a train wreck:
- My immediately-past Chairman of Deacons went unexpectedly into the hospital in McKinney, so I rushed over to check on him early this morning.
- I arrived back five minutes late for the early worship service, which was already in progress (thanks, John).
- The guy I went to see in the hospital is one of the choir's key tenors. Unforeseen circumstances also took out at the last minute the leader of our orchestra and our key sopranos. The combined toll eliminated two choral elements from the order of service.
- We're observing the Lord's Supper today, so the order of service matters more than it usually does—more people trying to figure out when to do what they're supposed to do. We wound up a song ahead of schedule while serving the Lord's Supper.
- I must admit, I was distracted the whole time.
Yet, as I initiated our observance of the Supper by reading I Corinthians 15:1-8, it occurred to me that the circumstances of the Last Supper were not pristine themselves. It took place in the midst of turmoil. Jesus' experience in the Garden just afterwards revealed the anguish He was feeling. The disciples were confused, having been confronted first with Jesus' act of service in washing their feet, then all the talk of betrayal, and now a discussion of broken body and shed blood during the Supper. Their circumstances that night…perhaps not that different from ours.
But 1 Corinthians 15 does the job for us of sorting out what is "of first importance" and (by implication) what is not. Together our congregation proclaimed the good news that Jesus has died and is risen, atoning for our past and demonstrating our future.
Life is messy. People get sick and go to hospitals. Tragedy strikes. Worship is, ultimately, not about leaving the mess "outside" while we think about God; it is about proclaiming the victory of God over the mess. In the midst of it all, it was a neat experience for me to come to that point in the service where I told myself, "These earthly concerns are not important. They fall vanquished by the gospel—all of them. That's what is important."