In churches like ours, where Sunday Services start off with announcements and greetings, it seems that many people mistakenly believe that the worship service actually starts with praise and prayer, after the announcements. So sometimes people loiter outside the sanctuary, doing things like making calls on their cell phones, and they hurry to get back in the sanctuary only after they hear the sounds of praise beginning. (I am not saying I see this often. In fact, it’s not easy to see such people at our church).
Do you realize that the times of announcements and welcoming are the parts our Heavenly Father enjoys the most? As Pastor Choi famously says, the church announcement time highlights our relationships with our neighbors, and the time after praise and prayer is about our relationship with God. Think about it. Haven’t we seen many happy events taking place during that time? This is the time when new members receive enrollment gifts, when former non-believers receive a “hug ceremony” after completing a one on one class, when people become voting members and rejoice with the congregation, when people who first visited our church three years ago become Shepherds, when people who came to our church 5 years ago are ordained as an Ordained Shepherd, when people who first attended our church 8 years ago become deacons and lead the congregation in a prayer, etc. In other words, it is a time we can clearly witness the process of non-believers becoming believers, growing and maturing as disciples of Christ.
Wouldn’t God be most pleased when we participate in this time of privilege, congratulating each other, laughing, and rejoicing in harmony? It’s like what happens when children who live in different parts of the country come together at their parents’ house during Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays and their parents are overwhelmed with joy to see all of them laughing and chatting in their presence. I believe God feels the same way, if not more. Don’t let that blessed moment pass you by. The laughter of joy, along with the joyful praise of the whole congregation is surely a fragrant offering to Him.
One more thing: “Amen” is a crucial part of the worship service. Amen is an important tradition that has been emphasized since the dawn of the church. Whenever God’s message was proclaimed by a preacher, the congregation responded with “Amen” to mean “That is true”, and with that they made a heartfelt dedication every worship service. In fact, preachers often get energized when the congregation expresses “Amen” during the service. So when saying Amen, be sure to do so earnestly and loudly.
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