In Brazil there was a tradition among the preachers that, if we were on vacation and decided to visit a church event, such as Bible Study, Service, Prayer Meeting, etc. the Pastor of the church could call us to preach, to teach, or share a “word from God”. Because of that every time that I visited a church during my vacations I would bring my Bible, one or two sermons, and a Bible Study inside of it, just in case the pastor would recognize me all the way in the back of the church and invite me to come up front to share something with the congregation.
I do not know if that tradition is still valid nowadays, but when I was pastor in Brazil I had not only the experience of being invited to preach, but also I invited preachers to preach in my church. Of course if you were not a good preacher the pastor would only recognize you and welcome you, but you would not be invited to preach or teach. We all can understand that. The pastor of the church had the authority to make that decision on the spot, without consulting the elders of the church.
This tradition had some very good aspects; the first one is that it would keep us, the pastors, on our toes all the time. We had to be prepared. The second one is that it would give some churches, mostly the small ones, an opportunity to have once in a while a good and famous preacher preaching there. Another positive aspect is that it would keep attendance high during summer time because our members would never know when they would have a surprise preacher on Sunday morning or evening.
This reminds me of the story of the resurrection narrated by John on John 20:19-29. On the first day of the week, and this is why we have our main activities on Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time, but Thomas was not there. This is what the text says: “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. John 20:24” He missed the opportunity to see the resurrected Jesus and to worship Him.
Every Sunday, God shows up in our sanctuaries, not only to be worshiped but also to talk to us, to touch us, and to listen to the prayers of His people. The statistics tell us that an average of more than 50% of the members do not attend church on a regular basis. Maybe they, like Thomas, do not believe that the living Christ will be there.
We never know when God will have something special just for us. We never know when He will talk to us in a specific way. We never know how He will touch us. Most of the time God uses His Word to do that, but sometimes he uses the choir, or a hymn, or a prayer, or a brother or sister to communicate to us His love, His grace, and His mercy. But if we don’t show up for the service, like Thomas, we will miss that great opportunity. So, my friend, make an extra effort to go to church and worship, as much as you can, you never know what God has in store for you.
Have a blessed week,