Sermon: Epiphany 7
Daily and Weekly Worship
Life has its rhythms. Last time we talked about the annual rhythm of the Church Year.
From November to June, we live in the story of Jesus — his coming at Advent and Christmas, his life and ministry through which he revealed God’s glory in Epiphany, his call to take up our cross and follow him in Lent, his suffering and death in Holy Week, his resurrection and ascension in Easter, and his gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
From June to November, we live in the story of the Church — learning what it means to live the new life of faith, hope, and love in Christ, saved by grace through faith, filled with the Holy Spirit, and called to fulfill our vocations in the world, planting seeds of new creation and shalom.
In this series, we have also spoken about the rhythm of gathering and scattering, of coming together on Sunday to worship and then being sent to serve the Lord between Sundays.
Worship itself also has a rhythm like this. We gather to worship as a church family on Sundays, but our worship does not end when we depart. Worshiping God also involves a weekly pattern, a rhythm.
- There is Sunday devotion and daily devotion.
- On Sundays we worship together as a church family. Between Sundays, we worship as individuals and with our own families.
- Sunday is public worship. Between Sundays, we practice private worship and devotion.
- We hear God’s Word read and preached from the pulpit on Sundays. Between Sundays, we read the Bible for ourselves and ask God to teach us.
- On Sundays, we pray together for one another, for the Church, the world, and all who are in need. Between Sundays, each of us maintain a conversational relationship with God in prayer.
- On Sundays, we seek God’s presence here, together, and meet with him through the Word and at the Table. Between Sundays, we “practice the presence of God” every-where we go, walking with God and trying to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit in our lives and relationships.
- On Sundays, we say our prayers together. Between Sundays, we try to do what the Bible encourages us to do — to “pray without ceasing.”
We are not called to be “Sunday-only” Christians. Worship is for every day. It follows a rhythm that flows between public and private, between corporate worship with each other and private worship and devotion, when we meet with God as individuals and families.
We have two great resources to use in helping us worship, not only on Sundays but also throughout the week. Both of these resources were emphasized by Martin Luther and the other Reformers as God’s gifts for all people.
- The first, of course, is the Bible. We encourage daily Bible reading as a way of hearing God speak to your life every day of the week.
- The other is your hymnal. You may or may not realize it, but our Lutheran Hymnal contains materials that are designed not for our Sunday worship, but for your daily worship at home in private and with your families.
On page 1160, for example, you will find Luther’s Small Catechism. Martin Luther wrote this so that families might learn and pray together between Sundays in their own homes.
And if you will look at page 1121, you will see that our hymnal contains the Daily Lectionary, which contains Bible readings for every day of the year. Each week, here in church, we hear readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and the Gospels. The Daily Lectionary contains readings like that too.
Our hymnals also contain daily prayers (330-331), and all the Psalms (335).
I would love to see every individual and every family in our church have a hymnal at home, so that you can use it between Sundays as well as on Sunday.
Why do I encourage this today?
- Because our life with Jesus is a daily walk. Being a Christian is not just about what happens on Sunday. It’s not just about “going to church.” It’s about living a life with God every day of the week.
- This life is a conversational life in which God talks to us through Scripture and we speak to God in prayer. This doesn’t just happen when we come together. God desires that we know God’s presence and the leading of God’s Spirit each and every day.
- Our life as Christians is also a life of growing faith, in which we worship Jesus daily as Lord of all and follow him. This is how we are formed to become more like Jesus. This is how we learn to develop in faith, hope and love. This is how we learn to love our neighbors better. This is how we learn to grow up in Christ and become fully formed and flourishing human beings who bring God’s gift of shalom to the world.
Psalm 1 says that the truly blessed person is the one who meditates on God’s teachings day and night. It’s not just about Sunday. It’s about practicing the presence of God every day.