We all need reminders in life.
I place reminders on my phone to remind me of important dates that I need to make sure I don’t forget. Things like birthdays and anniversaries, doctors appointments, reminders to pay quarterly taxes, or even lunch appointments with members of my congregation. I program these reminders into my phone because I get so busy I’m afraid I’ll forget them if I don’t write them down somewhere.
Beyond just reminders of dates and appointments, we all need reminders in life because so often we become so busy with life that we fail to notice the inherent ways our culture tries to form us into something we are not. We live in a culture that is liturgically trying to change our fundamental story or rewrite the fundamental narrative of our lives.
We live in a culture of consumerism, where we are being taught from an early age that the way to find happiness is in having the newest toys and the nicest clothes. We are taught from an early age to spend our money, even more than we have, on clothes, toys, and electronics, because it’s in the accumulation of “stuff” that happiness is found. Through commercials and advertising we discover that the happiest people are the ones leaving the store with bags full of goods recently purchased.
We live in a culture of patriotism, where we are taught from an early age to pledge our allegiance to the flag because it is the country that keeps us safe, and provides our blessings. We are taught from an early age that America is the greatest and that anything we need will be provided by our great country. Meanwhile our safety is based on our military, our security is based on our banking system, and our livelihood is protected by our government.
We live in a culture of education, and we are taught from an early age that the way to advancement is found in knowledge; and more knowledge produces better people. We go to our schools and seek advanced degrees because we are convinced that through knowledge and science every problem in the world can be remedied. We are taught that truth is found in the academy, and that we need to seek knowledge to discover truth.
In order to save us from this indoctrination, we need reminders that ground us in the story of God. These reminders are found in worship. Worship, both privately and corporately, reminds us of our fundamental narrative, and to whom we belong.
Worship happens in the privacy of our own homes, as we are out in the fields, and as we are driving down the road. As we sing songs, pray, mediate on scripture, or just think about God; these are moments in the midst of our everyday lives that remind us to whom we belong. As we worship we recount our fundamental story of a God who loves and desires relationship with us. As we worship, we are reminded that it is God who blesses us, protects us, and provides for us. It is these quiet periods of worship that keep us grounded in the story of God.
Worship also happens in the weekly assembly, as the collection of a gathered community on Sunday grounds us in the story of God. As we wake up early on our day off and prepare for Sunday, as we leave our homes while many of our neighbors are still fast asleep or out doing yard work, as we orient our off day around this moment of gathered community; it reminds us of what is most important. Yes, we could choose to stay home or do chores, but we gather together to rehearse the fundamental story of our lives. We gather together to allow the story to quiet the voices of culture that our trying to get us to believe the lies that it is through consumerism, or education, or our country that we survive. As we come and sing songs, as we pray, as we read scripture, and as we gather around the table, these are reminders that our lives belong to a bigger story. Fundamentally, we are not just individuals who in various trades, but we are fundamentally Christians, Image Bearers of God, striving to take God into every corner of our world. We come and share the stories week after week because it’s in the power of repetition that we are fundamentally shaped within the narrative. And we bring our children and our families because it’s in the power of shared worship, gathered together as a community, that we fight the voices of our culture.
We need reminders to help shape the fundamental story of our lives. We find those reminders in worship. Worship breaks into our normal lives and forms us into those who desire God above all else.