Last Friday, I rode the train up to the north side of Chicago to grab some lunch and do a little work at a Swedish restaurant that I visit pretty often. Immediately upon my arrival, I was pulled into conversation by a 94-year-old gentleman named Manny, who frequents the restaurant with his grandson. Manny asked me a lot of questions about myself, genuinely listened to the answers, and insisted on paying for my lunch (when he found out that I had only ordered a salad, he took the liberty of asking a server to bring me a supplementary fruit cup). Normally, I would be touched by Manny’s kindness and generosity. This time, it shifted my whole perspective on the day.
My grandpa passed away this past Father’s Day, and almost four months later, I’m still not even close to having processed it. I think about him multiple times each day and am taken aback by my sadness each time. I miss him a lot, and it isn’t getting any easier. In the fifteen total minutes that I talked to Manny, I could tell he was a lot like my grandpa: Eager to befriend anyone in sight, generous beyond measure (in ways that people could never ask for), a seeker of enjoyment in life’s little things despite the effects of old age that have forced him to slow down, a guy who loves to look “sharp” on special occasions and normal days, a caring, humble man. Meeting Manny was a sweet reminder of the love of my grandfather and the amazing gift that his life and his involvement in mine have been. In a way that I never could have predicted when I woke up that morning, meeting Manny caused me to worship God.
Worship isn’t always singing, even though that’s the first thing that usually comes to mind when we hear the word. It isn’t always initiated by a person with a guitar standing in the front of a church service. Worship is a response to God, who he is, and what he has done. Psalm 150:4 speaks of worship expressed through dancing and the playing of tambourines. Romans 12:1 tells us that presenting our bodies to God as holy and living sacrifices is worship. Colossians 3:17 tells us to do everything, words and deeds, in Jesus’ name, with thanks to God the Father through Christ. John 4 discusses our worship as acting in spirit and truth. 1 Timothy 4:13 tells us to be devoted to the teaching and reading of Scripture. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to worship through prayer.
Our worship lives shouldn’t be defined by the music we make in congregations on Sunday mornings. The gift to come together with other believers and raise our voices to the Lord we love should not be dismissed or undervalued; it is priceless. However, we also need to be careful not to underappreciate the opportunities that we have to worship in all parts of each day that we are given. In the good and bad, the trips to small group and the nights alone in our apartments, we have the privilege of being connected with God through Jesus Christ and offering him worship and adoration with all of our lives. These are precious gifts – How much more distant might we find ourselves from God if we only had the opportunity to connect with him on Sunday mornings! It is a gift to be able to recognize the little provisions that the lover of our souls offers to us just when we need them, and it is a gift to be able to turn those gifts back to him in worship, whatever that worship may entail.