I pointed out in last week's post that the 40-day period of Lent began last week with Ash Wednesday. (If you count out the days on a calendar, you'll find that there are actually 46 days before Easter. That's because the Sundays are typically not counted. Go figure!) But the period of Lent is at its core about one thing: Preparing for Easter. Over the centuries, Christians have done this in a variety of ways. Some believers use special devotions. They may devote themselves to prayer. Many Christians focus on repenting of specific sins in their lives. And of course, many people deny themselves of something during the Lenten period--a fast of sorts. (I'll talk about that last one a bit more next week.) But I've always liked this idea of preparation. The fact is that for we followers of Jesus, it's easy to make the case that Easter is the most meaningful celebration on our calendars! So preparing ourselves for Easter...well...just makes sense, doesn't it??
And yet, at the exact same time, I think that we would be making a mistake if we limited this idea of preparation...of spiritual mise en place...to Lent. Frankly, ANY time we come into the House of the Lord, we ought to be prepared! We should be ready to worship. We should be ready to celebrate Jesus Christ. We should be ready to hear from God's Word; to encourage fellow believers; to simply focus on God and His awesomeness. Psalm 100:4 says "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Yet, how easy is it to enter into our worship service ready to praise and sing and rejoice and listen if we were up until 1am on Saturday night watching movies?? (Or whatever else.) It's about as easy as it would be for a professional cook to stroll into their kitchen 5 minutes before dinner service and try to keep up with orders for 3 hours. It doesn't work. Just as a cook understands that mise en place is necessary for them to do their job well, I wonder if our worship would be much more real and pure and effective if only we'd give a little thought to preparing for it.
How's your spiritual mise en place? When you come to worship, are you ready to go? Or are you dragging yourself in, hoping that you can just keep your eyes open? I believe our worship will be FAR more pleasing to God when we've prepared ourselves for it. Let's all strive to ready ourselves for worship!
- Pastor Paul