Why are you here? Put another way, the question is, “Why do you go to church on Sunday?"
Undoubtedly there would be as many answers to this question as there are members of this congregation. But despite the wide variety of responses there would likely be some general themes found among them. “To worship God.” “Because that’s what I do on Sunday morning.” “My parents make me.”
But before you give your answer to my first question perhaps you will consider a few more questions about the Sunday Service.
Is God the object or the subject of what goes on at church each Lord’s Day? My intention is not to give you an English lesson. But in the sentence, “I worship God,” “I” is the subject, “worship” is the verb and “God” is the object. If we speak of the Sunday service as “worship” then we are emphasizing that we are the actors and that God is the “object” of the Sunday Service. In this model or understanding of the Sunday Service, God is passive, present only to receive adoration, praise and thanksgiving from His people.
Now don’t misunderstand me. The Church certainly does adore, praise and thank God for all that He has done and will continue to do for His people. But these activities of God’s people remain secondary. I would like to suggest that it is much more appropriate to emphasize the activity of God and to view Him as the “subject” of the Sunday Service. With this understanding, God is the active one and the Church is primarily the recipient of this Divine action.
Throughout the Old Testament era and continuing in the present, God has associated His presence with His Name. With God’s presence came His action on behalf of His people. God has promised to be present where His Name is invoked and where the actions which He has established, namely Baptizing and Communing, Preaching and Absolving take place. Jesus did not institute these things so that the Church could do something for Him! He gave them to His Church so that He could do something for Her, namely, to give Her all the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation which He has won for Her by His Holy life, death and resurrection. He continues to do this so that She may be ready and well prepared to receive Him when He comes to Her visibly, in all His eternal glory. On that great day of our Lord, the bridegroom will receive His bride, which He has adorned in the white garment of His righteousness, to bring Her into the everlasting Home He has prepared for Her.
Perhaps the bulletin announcement occasionally included in the weekly bulletin will be of some help as you seek an answer for yourself as to why you come to church. I think it describes well what goes on in this place each Lord’s day and why coming to church is such a blessing.
A WELCOME IN JESUS' NAME to all who gather in the Lord’s House today. You have joined with the seen and unseen host of God to be served by the Triune God through the preaching of His Word and the administration of the Holy Sacraments. Apart from these Means of Grace there are no Christians and there is no Church! Therefore the entire Liturgy places God at center stage as He acts towards His people through these Means to bring His gifts of life and salvation. That is why the Liturgy is called “Divine Service” - it is God’s Service to His people! This service reaches its fulfillment in the Lord’s Supper or Sacrament of the Altar.
If you have not been coming to the weekly service it may be time to ask yourself, “Why?” If you have thought of Sunday only as a time to “worship” God then I don’t blame you for staying away. You do not need to come to church to “worship.” God is worshiped in and through your daily life as you abide in His Word and as your actions give witness to what you believe. When what you believe affects how you live then you are worshiping God. But no one will be saved because they worshiped God! Permit me to remind you of what St. Paul the Apostle so pointedly teaches the Church about how God brings salvation to His people, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)
But if the purpose for coming to Church is “to be served by God” then how can you stay away? The gracious God, whose name you bear by virtue of your baptism into Christ, desires to give you all that you need to inherit eternal life. He has bound Himself to use simple means, water and word, bread and wine, to bestow His everlasting gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. With these gifts His grace gives you power over sin, death and the empty promises of the devil.
Now back to the original question. Why are you here? Why do you come to Church each Sunday? I hope that through these brief comments of mine you can give the answer, “To be served by God!”