Seven Milers, this is the first of four posts in our series: For The Love of God (and others), Be On Time.
One of the things I distinctly remember about my time at Seven Mile Road Boston was the way that Pastor Matt Kruse would begin the Sunday service. If I had to describe it, I’d use the words thoughtful, serious, and gracious.
Thoughtful because you knew he wasn’t winging it. It wasn’t empty, shallow, religious drivel. It wasn’t a heap of spiritual cliches. It didn’t feel like a cheerleader trying to rile up the crowd with theatrics. It was a carefully prepared word from God. The service always began with Scripture allowing God’s voice to be heard. First. Before ours. Because He calls and we respond.
Serious because the moment was weighty. Don’t read serious as joyless because the two are not synonyms. There was a sense in which the opening moments of the service demanded our attention because something important was happening. Almighty God was present. In the room. With us. The One from whom angels hid their faces. The God whom the heavens could not contain had chosen to make His presence known in that old elementary school gymnasium with the metal folding chairs. When you allowed that reality to sink into your chest, a disinterested yawn or a cavalier attitude was unthinkable.
Gracious because in those opening moments God was inviting us to come to Him. Let that sink in. Every Sunday, God is inviting you to come to Him. You invite someone you want. And God wants you. God knows everything about you – both the sins you have done and the good you have left undone. You can’t hide from Him or fool Him. He knows the real you. And that’s exactly who He wants. The Call to Worship is not us inviting God but God inviting us. We are not like the prophets of Baal who are begging God to show up in our service. Our God is for us. His face shines upon us. His hands are open to bless. There is no reluctance in Him to overcome. The grace of God was evident right from the start.
Often in the Call to Worship, Matt would say something like, “If we could see it, it’s as if the roof of this place were ripped off and we are standing with the assembly of angels and saints before the throne of God.” What a picture! And here’s the beauty Seven Milers. That’s exactly what happens in the Call to Worship.
The writer of Hebrews says:
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:18-24)
Picture yourself standing with Israel before Mount Sinai to meet with God. The mountain shaking. The trumpets blasting. The smoke billowing. The fire blazing. The voice of God booming. Your body trembling. Incredible. And yet what the writer is saying is that as amazing as all of that was, what we have is even better! For we come to a better mountain, in a better city, with a better assembly, in a better covenant, with a better Mediator, whose blood speaks a better word.
How does this connect to our Call to Worship? Douglas Wilson says it like this:
What happens when a small group of saints gather in a community church somewhere out in the sticks? At their call to worship, they ascend to the City of God, to the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Call to Worship is an airlift. In it, we are thoughtfully, seriously, and graciously being transported to stand before our God, with the assembly of innumerable angels and saints, in the presence of Jesus.
It’s take-off. And take-off is at 10am. Don’t miss it.