In researching the early Christian church for my novel, my goal was to feel like I was sitting in the midst of a church meeting. To know what it was like for a Roman girl, raised to believe that there was a god for everything and how she can come to understand that there is only One True God and He sent His only Son to earth to die for us so that we can live forever in paradise with Him.
As I got to know what the early church was like, I came to realize how the simplicity of their service was beautiful: praising God with songs (singing Psalms), reading letters of Paul and later reading the Gospels, and then hearing a message from the church leader on the meaning of the Word.
Until I started attending a Calvary Chapel when I first moved to Phoenix, I hadn’t experienced the simple praise and worship service like the early church. After I bought my house, I started attending First Christian Church of Phoenix — a non-denominational church. I love the music and the basic praise and worship. No rules and regulations (like growing up Catholic), no ceremony, rituals or traditions, just simple praise and worship.
What God wants from us…
All the pomp and circumstance is fine, if we don’t lose the basics. Praising God with all abandon — not just singing along, but living what we learn in church. Not just on Sunday. You’re not just there to fulfill your weekly obligation — you’re there to praise and worship God — to learn how He wants us to live. God gave us Jesus so that we could have eternal life with Him in Heaven. He also gave us the Bible and church to show us HOW to live. We are to strive to be Christlike.
Even back in the Old Testament days, God had a problem with how the people of Israel were worshiping Him. It’s not much different now.
The Lord says:Isaiah 29:13
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Worshiping Post COVID-19 Pandemic
In 2020, going to church to praise and worship after the COVID-19 pandemic is going to look different. I imagine, my church, with moveable chairs rather than pews, will have missing rows in order to keep the “social distancing”. We’ll see less of the elderly folks. They’ll probably have shorter yet multiple services to accommodate 300 people. I pray for the pastors and church staff as they try to figure this out.
One thing to remember….
God commands us to…
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:5
We honor the Lord, not just by going to church each Sunday, but by how we live our lives.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.Psalm 33: 1-5
We’ll be singing behind masks and it’s going to look weird, but I’m looking forward to it. God will love it no matter how funny it looks.
Growing up Catholic
Looking back to going to Catholic church as a kid in the Bronx, then in Upstate New York, I remember the services being robotic. Stand up for this, kneel for that, sit down, repeat. I remember when masses were in Latin. Who could understand it? It was an obligation. We’d go to hell if we didn’t show up for mass!
That’s not what God wants. He wants us to praise and worship him freely with all our hearts. For us to show Him how much we love and adore Him in gratitude of what Jesus did for us.
Even my first communion was robotic as was walking down the isle with my hands held in prayer-pose like a little angel, because I went to confession the day before and I was supposedly absolved of my sins.
All these Rituals were for Nothing
Little did I know that it really didn’t mean anything. I wasn’t pure. I wasn’t “saved”. If I died, my destination wasn’t heaven. It was hell.
But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.Exodus 9:16
When those words were written, spreading someone’s fame throughout the earth was a difficult and time consuming task. Not so today. With the power of the Internet and social media, we can reach billions of people in seconds. God has me using that power to do His work.
The Last Days
I believe we’re living in the Last Days. Jesus predicted them. Peter spoke of them after he was filled with the Holy Spirit after the resurrection...
‘In the last days,’ God says,Acts 2:17-21
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.
And I will cause wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.
But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.’
You can’t deny that 2020 so far has been a year when people are saying, “What’s going on?!” God only knows when the Rapture will happen. However, He’s given us His Word and Promise that Jesus will come back for His believers.
Will you be Left Behind?
If you want the assurance of a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
Pray this prayer humbly and wholeheartedly…
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Please forgive me. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. I will follow you for the rest of my life. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”Matthew 24:14 NLT
Are you ready?
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory!