Your worship acknowledges that God is – and He is your God!

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
-Ps. 122:1

The Bible’s teaching about worship may apply differently at different points in your life. However, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter in the above Bible verse. Simply put, we want to worship God—and He commands it (Ps. 96:9“Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”, Hebrews 10:25“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”). Worship is the first and most essential habit of a Christian.  Our worship acknowledges that He is – and He is our God!

While we are encouraged to worship God all day, every day, our gathering together is uniquely required in the Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” -Exodus 20:8-11, and other places in the Bible,“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together . . .” (Hebrews 10:23-25)“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”, (Ps. 29:2“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”, Acts 2:42” And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”, Col. 3:16“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”).

Remember that, while our worship gives our praise to God and demonstrates our loyalty to Him, in worship God is giving us gifts of grace beyond description. His Word, which is read and preached, applies His forgiveness to us. The Lord’s Supper, poetically called “the bread of immortality,” is shared at the altar only. God commands us to worship, not because He needs our worship, but because He knows that we need what He has to give us—His forgiveness leading to eternal life!

We see this when Jesus said, “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath” -Mark 2:27.  The Sabbath is a gift for us to stop the usual activities of our work-a-day lives to focus on the eternal. It is to be a day of rest for our physical bodies and nourishment for our souls.

Is it a sin to miss worship?

That depends! – Normally, the Third Commandment applies. However, one day the Pharisees were watching to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath, which they considered a violation of their rules. Jesus said, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” -Luke 14:6. Here Jesus recognizes that we or our neighbors may need help when worship is scheduled. Examples are the work of first responders, medical workers and other necessary 24/7 services, or when our family members are ill.

Unless it is to help our neighbor in an urgent need, simply deciding not to attend worship or choosing activities that do not need to be done during this time is a violation of the Third Commandment.

Recall the Bible’s account of Jesus going to the house of Mary and MarthaNow as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” for dinner?  Martha was cooking while Mary was at the feet of Jesus.  He said, “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion” (Luke 10:42).

Is watching the livestream an acceptable alternative to attending worship?

That depends! – The livestream is a good choice when you may be prevented from attending church due to illness, being shut-in, lacking transportation, dangerous road conditions or serving your neighbor. No doubt you hear God’s word and are blessed by it. Attending in person remains the better option. Not only are you able to receive the Lord’s Supper, and are blessed by the fellowship of other believers, but your presence at weekly worship plays a vital role in moving St. Lucas forward in its mission to reach other people for Christ. There is no Church without “U”!

Do I need to worship every week?

Do you eat every day? – In the same way that bodies need nourishment every day (probably several times a day), so do our souls. Our souls are fed by God’s word as we are in the Scriptures every day. (See Christian Habit: Study.) God designed His creation to have a Sabbath every seven days, during which we rest and gather with other believers to receive God’s grace. It’s God’s plan—and it’s a good and gracious one!

Do I have to worship at St. Lucas?

Worship where you are! – If you are under the spiritual care of St. Lucas (a member or just consider St. Lucas home), it’s normal to worship here. However, it’s also common to worship with other family and friends at times. When you travel, you can make plans to worship at a local congregation. Most places in the US will have a nearby LCMS church, or certainly a Christian church. Attending our livestream can be an option also.