by the Rev. Jay George
One of the great blessings of being a priest in God’s church is the seat I have in worship. I am privileged to look out on the faces of God’s people as they come to Him in praise. Not that priests alone have this opportunity; but week in and week out, through Lent and Easter and the long days of summer, I get to watch you worship.
What I see when I look out on the assembly of the Body of Christ is simply amazing. If you could see what I see it would take your breath away. Because what I see is beautiful and powerful and glorious. I see the presence of the Living God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords gathered in the breath and heart beat of a hundred ordinary people.
I see sinners come to the hospital. Beat down, worn out, tired, oh so tired, dragging a screaming kid by one arm. They need help, these broken ones, so overwhelmed by the changes and chances of this life. They come for the medicine, the shot, the IV, the jolt like electricity bringing them back to life. They come to be healed with the body and blood of Christ.
I see the saints, those followers of Christ. Fired up and excited, eyes wide and shiny with enthusiasm, clutching their Bibles or prayer books with almost manic glee. They come hungry and want to be fed. They come for the Word, to be shaped and formed, to be challenged and commissioned and sent back into the world. They come to hear the Word of God.
I see the ordinary, the bedraggled, the broken and the lost. I see the winners, the losers and those who have never quite figured out how the game is played.
I see the special, the unique, the precious. I see those who have been convinced by a merciless world that they alone are none of the above.
I see the angry, the desperate, the lonely and the hard. I see the happy, the joyful, the oblivious.
I see husbands dragged in by wives, children guilted by parents, single people looking for connection and families sometimes wishing they had less.
When I stand in the pulpit, behind the altar, at the foot of the cross, I look out and I see the people of God. Woven together like a quilt. No longer separate, scattered, good for nothing pieces. Now worthy and worthwhile and warm.
In each of us I see all of us. The alcoholic. The banker. The soccer mom. In worship we come together as we do at no other time. And each of us fits into the larger whole.
My voice alone is a source of embarrassment, never sounding quite as good as I think it does. Together, though, raised in songs of praise, our voices must sound like a choir of angels to the heavenly realm.
This is what we were made for. This is who we are. We are the children of God. We worship the One who formed us in the womb and give thanks for his mighty power. We are the sinners redeemed, reclaimed and remade. We are chosen and holy and new.
And we are a mess. A great, glorious, holy mess before the Lord. Not you and you and you. Not even me and me and me. But us and us and us. Yours and yours and yours, oh Lord. We come to you in worship, and we are yours.
This is the beauty of the Psalms to me. That God captures us in all of our guises, in our high points and low, poised and candid. We speak to God of who we are, from where we are, as we are, naked and unashamed. And in the speaking we are spoken to. We hear God speaking in the voice of the Psalmist precisely because it is our voice and not God’s own. He speaks to us through each other. For each other. With each other. Because we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. And in worship we are home.
Psalm 100 (NIV)
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
The Rev. Jay George is vicar of Grace Church in San Antonio, Texas.