Summary: Jesus did die, but He didn’t stay dead! So a church service should not be like a funeral. Someone suggested that it is a memorial service, not for the dead, but by the dead! Perhaps that explains it.
A Tour through Acts ~ part 8
A Great Church is a Joyously Worshiping Church
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (+ NIV)
I read a story about someone visiting a small Baptist church in Houston. Back then it was a small church, located downtown. He said that when he walked in there were few people in a dimly lit sanctuary. The service was very depressing. They were singing songs that were like funeral dirges — "Day Is Dying In The West." Later that day he was walking around the downtown area and saw a jewelry store having a grand opening. He went in and it was bright and cheerful inside. There was upbeat and happy music playing. There were friendly and enthusiastic people who greeted him. They offered him some punch to drink and showed him around the store. He remarked that if they had given an invitation, he would have joined the jewelry store, not the church.
Have you ever wondered why so many church services are so morbid? What is the reason that we think that when we come into a church building we need to act in some religiously solemn way. Church, for many, is more like a memorial service than a celebration. But it isn’t a memorial service for the dead. Jesus did die, but He didn’t stay dead! So a church service should not be like a funeral. Someone suggested that it is a memorial service, not for the dead, but by the dead! Perhaps that explains it.
But I think that there are other explanations as well. The primary reason we do what we do is that we have always done it that way. Most of us were brought up in churches that followed the traditions handed down by other churches, who followed the traditions handed down to them. Tradition has a great deal to do with why we do what we do.
We are all creatures of habit. We’ve become accustomed to doing things the same way. All you have to do is think about your own personal ritual for getting up in the morning. Most people go through the same motions every morning when they arise. Some cut the alarm clock off and lie there for just a few moments. Others sit on the side of the bed for a minute or two. Still others immediately spring forth to greet the new day. I’ll bet you put your socks on the same way every morning. I’ll bet that you put a shoe on the same foot first every day. We all get into our routines. There’s nothing wrong with that. It simplifies life somewhat and it makes us feel more comfortable.
Now there is nothing wrong with tradition. Some traditions are important. They are valuable in communicating to us truth about God and truth about ourselves. One of my favorite movies has been "Fiddler on the Roof." I particularly like the opening scene when Tevya sings the theme song, "Tradition." As he does, he explains to the audience the value of tradition as he sees it. He says, "Our tradition tells us who God is and who we are." When tradition can do that, it is good tradition.