Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Loving Worship

Lord, I have loved the habitation of your house, and the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8

August is a month filled with nervous anticipation for a teacher. With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, I am busy with classroom planning. I work in a Lutheran preschool, where one of my responsibilities is the teaching of religion. Teaching religion is a joy when I see the children I teach respond to the Gospel. It is a task that I take very seriously. I feel that sharing Bible truths is the most important thing that I can give these students. More than anything, I desire these children to know Jesus as their Savior. I know that it is not me, but the Holy Spirit, that works faith in these young hearts through the Word. However, I admit to feeling a little personal pleasure when I see evidence of the developing faith of one of the preschoolers. Alternately, I also am disheartened when the students don’t seem to be listening during “Jesus Time,” or even verbally express their boredom.

One aspect of the religion curriculum that inevitably stimulates expressions of boredom is the weekly chapel service. I believe that it is valuable to take children into the sanctuary for worship, especially since so many of them come from unchurched families. However, once they finish exploring their surroundings, many become uninterested. I believe the reason is that they do not understand the nature of worship. These children need to know the reasons why we worship, why the church is called God’s house, the purpose of the fixtures we use during worship, and that there is meaning behind the elements of the service. They still may express some boredom because they find worship less entertaining than Center Time or being on the playground, but at least they will hopefully understand that going to church is more than meaningless ritual.

When I work on developing the religion curriculum, I can’t help but feel convicted concerning my own attitude toward worship. I spend a lot of energy attempting to instill a value for worship in my preschool students. My desire for my own children is to have faith lives that are nurtured within the community of believers until they are called to their heavenly home. I have been considering whether I take the responsibility in my home as seriously as I do in my job? Honestly, probably not. How often has Sunday morning become a stressful fight over clothing, which service to attend, or getting children fed? How often have I had the attitude that going to church takes too much of my valuable time? How often have I been tired, going through the motions during the worship service, allowing my mind to wander instead of attentively listening? How often have I neglected to discuss the service with my children, taking the opportunity to teach them priceless lessons? How often have I made a negative comment to my husband concerning something that happened at church?

Even though my own children are older and much more independent than those in my classroom, I need to be mindful that they still need to be taught. They learn what I model. I want my children to worship as a reflection of their gratitude for God’s grace, rather than from a sense of obligation. I don’t want them to simply be in church, taking up space. I want them to hunger and thirst for God more than they desire the worldly distractions that constantly vie for their attention. I want them to draw strength from the Word, Sacraments, and being in the midst of their church family.

I know that I have often failed to be the example that my children need, but I go to the Heavenly Father in repentance and know that, thanks to Christ, I am forgiven. I pray the Holy Spirit will guide me and strengthen me to be a better vessel in the future. I pray for the blessing of knowing that my children love the habitation of God’s house, and the place where His glory dwells!

Dear God, I often neglect to be the teacher that my students and children need. Please cover my mistakes with your merciful love and graciously bless these children despite my failures. Please give all my children a desire for you, above all else. Let their lives be reflections of faith, and please draw them ever closer to you. At the end of this life, please grant them an eternity of worshipping in your glorious presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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