Sunday mornings today are far different from those of my mid-20th century childhood. I recall here in the Bible Belt of the American South, most stores were closed on Sunday, and church parking lots were full.
My family rarely attended church services, so I do not have any poignant memories of church life of the 1950s or 1960s. The occasional Sunday School class planted seeds of faith in my heart while only hinting at the virtues of a life of faith.
When I became a Christian in college, I purposed to go to church every Sunday. My new-found faith produced a desire to worship, a longing for fellowship with other believers, and a need for communal prayer. Sensing the need to worship the God of the Bible, I soon realized the human soul is made for that very purpose. In other words, everybody worships something. If it’s not the One who created us, it is some counterfeit god, be it money, sex, or power. For what we worship determines who we are, who we become. Or, as the minister, Jack Hayford, reminds us, “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped.”
Sunday mornings became a time to worship my heavenly Father, to praise Him, thank Him, and seek His wisdom. In my first church, I heard inspiring preaching and uplifting singing. I marveled at how my spirit soaked in the truths of Scripture and how the great hymns nurtured my growing faith. And I was overcome with the power of congregational prayer.
As a growing Christian, I had discovered the transforming nature of true worship. The author Erwin Lutzer describes it this way: “ If we haven’t learned to be worshippers, it doesn’t really matter how well we do anything else. Worship changes us, or it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience.”
Oh yes, my soul needed Sunday mornings.
It needed the blessings of Christian fellowship. My spirit resonated with hymns like We Gather Together,
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own
Listening to the song, I Find Jesus by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recently prompted this reflection on Sunday mornings. How so? Check out the chorus and one stanza of the lyrics below:
I find Jesus in the darkest night
I find Jesus in the morning light
I find Jesus in the face of those
Whose hearts are singing with the heavenly host.
Sometimes when I feel all alone
I look around and all are gone
The friends that I rely upon
Are busy doing what they want
I look within and I am told
It’s Sunday morning in my soul
And there I find a holy hall
Where congregations heed the call
Did you catch that last verse? “It’s Sunday morning in my soul.” Hearing those lyrics served as a reminder that a Sunday morning soul is not exclusive to Sunday mornings. Personal worship is meant to be daily, to be hourly, to be minute by minute. We are to walk in constant fellowship with our Lord. While worshipping together is important, I do not have to wait for Sunday mornings for my soul to sing.
Whether standing on the top of Pike’s Peak, or being surrounded by a bevy of butterflies, or in the stillness of a new morn watching the sunrise over the Atlantic, or beholding the birth of my children, or holding the hand of a dying loved one, my heart can be in awe of God’s creation, His love, and His faithfulness to me during times of joy and sorrow. Worship, whenever and wherever, is celebrating who God is and what He does and has done for me.
Sunday mornings are not a time to be entertained. I am not looking for an exhilarating mountain-top experience. Such feelings are fleeting. Sunday mornings in my soul are, first and foremost, a reminder that God is God, and I am not. He alone is worthy of praise. He alone is worthy of worship.
The closing words I hear at every Sunday morning worship service are “Now go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.” Yes, Sunday mornings are times to recharge, to renew, and to remind me that every day can be a Sunday morning in my soul. The late A.W. Tozer described it in more direct terms, “If you’re not worshiping God on Monday, the way you did the day before, perhaps you’re not worshiping Him at all.”