Hi blog family!
It has been a little while since I last wrote a blog post. This week I have been thinking about this passage from Matthew: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) Some of you may have seen on my Facebook that I just recently led my first English language worship service here in Szeged. I was nervous, but excited to finally be able to test my calling as a pastor.
I spent the whole week before preparing for the service. I slaved over my sermon, carefully picked the readings, and wrote all of my prayers of intercession. I had been so excited to lead these services since I heard that they were a part of my job here in Szeged back in July.
The day had finally come! I was getting ready for the service with my host pastor, Pastor Sandor, and one of my friends who was helping with the readings and music, and they reminded me that there wouldn’t be a lot of people there. I knew this as many people had been telling me that this service was often between 2-20 people. I smiled and told him that was perfectly okay with me, and that it would be a good “practice run.”
We walked in to the sanctuary and we were the only people there. The three of us. I felt sad, and frustrated, and unneeded, and useless. We went through the whole service as planned, even though it felt a little silly to me to be preaching to two people, one of whom had already read my sermon before. But, at the end of the service, they both told me how nice it was to hear my preaching. And I stopped, and the Matthew passage came to my mind.
I started to wonder why I felt silly in the service. I wondered why I had built up this image in my head that worship services only matter when there are a lot of people there (or at least more than 3). I started to think about where my personal bias comes from about these things.
I came to the conclusion that not only is God present in every worship situation that we have, even if it is just you, but God also puts people exactly where they need to be at all times. I think that God put me in that service 1. to do my job, but also 2. to ponder and think about what I think worship is and looks like. Worship can be three people in a sanctuary praising God together. Worship can be in a sanctuary filled to the brim with people. Worship can be in a completely foreign language to you. Worship to can be you singing or playing an instrument by yourself in your room. Worship can be you praying to God, alone, out of pain, suffering, thanksgiving, or joy.
There is no reason to “feel bad” about worship. People worship in different ways, and yet, it is all worship. Where ever two or more are gathered, God is there. God was there with us on Sunday, and will continue to be with us for every other English service that I lead here in Szeged. I am still working on fixing my own internal biases about this, but I know that that service was exactly how God intended it to be. No more, no less, exactly right. I am trying to live in to that truth this year. The truth that God does everything exactly how God wants it to be. In God’s perfect design. It’s a hard journey and a hard realization, but expectations take away from our joy. Live in to God’s glory, don’t insert your own judgement on the plan God has for you.