Sun is shining. Cool spring air embraces me. Suddenly sirens all around. “Oh, it’s Friday at 11 a.m. A weekly test of the tornado alert system.”
This is what Sunday worship is for me. A weekly test. It is a heart check. To determine its strength so I can count on it in stormy weather. This isn’t the heart test several of my friends have taken—getting numbers to indicate heart disease. It is a test to of my courage—my heart’s capacity to do what I believe.
We do four things to test our courage in worship. First we gather with all. We greet friends. We meet strangers. We run into enemies. But we are all there—those who nourish us and those who threaten us. And I gather with them to see if I have the heart to welcome into my life all the creatures created by the divine hand. Sometimes I pass. Too often I balk at the presence of all.
And when we worship, we also listen. We listen to words from tradition, words from the world, words from the hearts of others on the journey of discovery. And we test our ears. Can we listen well enough to hear a divine word in the words we hear? If so, maybe we can hear the divine spirit in the words we hear everyday. After all, the divine pulses through creation. Do I have the patience to hear? Sometimes I do, but often I don’t take time to listen for love in the others’ voice.
The third test of courage comes when worship calls us to make an offering. How generous is my heart? We come together to practice giving. Do I have the courage to sacrifice what I value for the greater value of divine love and justice in my world. Do I have the heart to risk some of my time and money for the well-being of others. Sometimes I do. Often I hold back.
And the final test of Sunday worship challenges my resolve. We are sent from worship to be a presence of peace, a champion for the outcast. Do I have the courage, the heart to live my life daily as a loving companion for those around me? I have done that. And at times I have not.
It is a good thing to test the tornado alert system in our city. Likewise, it is good for me to worship each Sunday to test my courage to live my faith well.