A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Standing Room Only Worship Service

Most churches are careful to count the number of people who attend worship services.  Usually this is done by the usher team.  Pastors tend to over-exaggerate the count!

We have churches of all sizes including mega, large, medium, and small.  Recently, I visited a church that has an average weekend worship attendance of 9,000.  I was a guest preacher in a church that averaged only a half dozen in worship.

All Saints' Sunday, the Sunday that falls on or immediately after November 1st is the Sunday on the church calendar when the attendance goes through the roof.  The church with a half a dozen is packed.  The mega church with 9,000 balloons to hundreds of thousands.  Ushers who are tabulating attendance don't have enough time to count noses as more and more people continue to flood into the sanctuary.

Imagine when you read the worship attendance in next Sunday's bulletin.  "144,000!  Wow, that was a lot more than I thought were here last Sunday!  Did we run out of donuts between services?  Who was working the nursery?"

OK, it wasn't literally 144,000.  That's just the Book of Revelation's symbolic way of describing the completeness and magnitude of all of God's people who have faithfully lived and died.  Every All Saints' Sunday, we are reminded that our church is much, much larger than what we can ever imagine.  Of course, those saints who have gone before us aren't just worshipping with us on that one Sunday of the year.  They are worshipping God the Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit 24/7.  It's an eternal worship service of great joy, praise, and thanksgiving.

Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them."  If that's the case with just two or three, just think what another 144,000 means for that little country church on a Sunday morning down the road.

This Sunday, don't be surprised if you hear a louder chorus than usual during the worship service. It's a song that all of God's saints love to sing, a song that reminds us that a time is coming when death will be no more and there will be no more mourning, crying, or pain.  Christ has defeated sin and death!

All Saints' Sunday will be standing room only so let's join all of God's saints in offering our worship and praise.

We already know that at least 144,000 of God's saints will be there.

All Saints' Day Prayer

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord.  Grant us grace so to follow your holy saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys, which you have prepared for those who sincerely love  you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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