As much as I love the joy and sparkle of Advent, I am pretty sure Lent is my favorite liturgical season. Looking at the heart and service of Christ while knowing what’s to come in the story truly beckons me to go beyond the surface of my faith and reflect on how well I’m doing in my worship and discipleship. How much time do I spend in prayer? How much scripture am I reading? What am I willing to set aside while attending a worship service so there can be less of me and more of God?

Ash Wednesday provided us with a powerful service to help us get centered and focused leading into Lent. Gone are the brass candle sticks and the shiny brass cross from the altar. Gone are the colorful LED lights that illuminate the chancel. Gone is the heavy brass offering plates. After all, God did not send us a King adorned in fanciful trimming, bracelets and a bejeweled crown to be our savior. God sent us the offering of a carpenter’s son, with work callused hands and road weary feet which were fragile enough to be pierced by the stakes that held him to the cross.

I’ve written in the past about my love of special services. Stepping out of the usual Sunday morning environment and into a darker, more somber space is such a meaningful way to change perspective and connect with the spirit. Worship is entirely dependent on the condition of the heart that’s pursuing it. It requires a total commitment of our body, mind and spirit.

I pray you’ll join me in thinking about where our hearts are leading as we attend worship each week and consider what it would take to approach God’s thrown with humility and a desire to draw closer to Him. Worship is about exalting, adoring and acknowledging the one true God. It has nothing to do with religion but has everything to do with developing an intimate relationship with our Lord. Are we willing to lay down the things that are separating us from Jesus?

It doesn’t matter when, how or where we worship so long as we come before the Lord with a pure and humble heart. We can worship in church, in our cars, at home or in the garden. We can

worship through prayer, silence, singing, raising our hands in adoration, dance, art, drama or playing instruments. However, we choose to worship we should be crying out to God; “Here I am, Lord. I am willing to listen and hear your holy spirit.”

Wednesday night I loved hearing the united voice of the congregation singing out together. It’s a joy to sing through the hymns. I was also grateful to be able to share a couple of songs that help draw me into the presence of God and to have Elizabeth Callahan to add her wonderful harmonies was very special. Worshiping through music is a substantial way to put aside all of our distractions and get swept away in the melodies. Quite often God reveals to me things I need to hear through the words of a song. Different lyrics jump out at me and touch my heart and my situations. If we allow it to, music can carry us into the arms of our Lord.

I once heard Pastor Tiffany preach something that has stuck with me for a long time.

She asked, “God is always present in our worship, but how present are we?”

If we can enter into worship with the intention of serenading God and adoring God with pride-less abandon, then we can truly find our peace in His presence. When we are fully aware of the spirit around us, we can have a sense of wonder and awe of who it is we are worshipping. Less of us, more of God. Friends, next time you come to worship, I challenge you to join me in losing ourselves and being overwhelmed by God’s majesty!

Tate Monroe
Director of Discipleship and Development