Summary: What’s the difference between a Palm Sunday Worshipper and a Good Friday Worshipper? I believe it’s all in the person’s outlook on worship. This sermon is a challenge to take worship to the next level, the level where worship becomes more than just an eve

Next Level Worship – the Real Thing – Palm Sunday, 2003

Matthew 21:1-17

A little boy lived out in the country around the turn of the twentieth century. He had never seen a traveling circus, and one was coming to his town on a particular Saturday. When he asked his father for permission to go, his dad said he could providing his chores were done early. Saturday morning came. Chores finished, the little boy asked his father for some money to go to the circus. His dad reached down in his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill, the most money the boy had ever seen at one time. Off the little wide-eyed fellow went. As he approached the town, he saw people lining the streets. Peering through the line at one point, he got his first glimpse of the parade. There were animals in cages and marching bands. Finally, a clown was seen bringing up the rear of the parade. The little boy was so excited that when the clown passed, he reached in his pocket and handed him the precious dollar bill. Thinking he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade, the little boy turned around and went home.

Isn’t it sad that so many people come to church like this little boy who went to the circus? They may come with the intent to worship God, but all they see is the parade – the parade of readings, singing, prayers, and preaching. They peer through their pews at all the activity and then turn to go home at 12:00 noon; thinking they have been to God’s house, but yet they missed the main event!

Worship is about so much more than what transpires here during this hour. This morning I want to leave you with a challenge: take worship to the next level; to make it the real thing! Will you pray with me…

When we were in Russia we visited the largest cathedral in Moscow, Christ Our Savior Cathedral. It was more of a museum than a church. Its beauty was beyond belief. But the thing that surprised me was that worship did not occur in this cathedral on a weekly basis, but rather only on Christmas and Easter. Every other week of the year the congregation met in a sanctuary in the basement. This was only for special occasions; only for when the big crowds showed up. On Christmas Eve this church is filled with over 10,000 worshippers. But most of those people only attend church once or twice a year, Christmas and Easter. Sound familiar?

Next week you will more than likely see people who you do not see on a weekly basis here. They will come from far and near to pay homage to the risen Christ? Why because it’s the thing to do on Easter. And much like the boy who missed the circus, they will miss the main event. Many of these people will never come to an understanding of what it means to truly be involved in worship.

And you should know. Most of you are regular worshippers. Yes, Christmas and Easter are special for you, but they’re special in a different way. You’re here most of the time. You’re faithful. You are committed. You know what worship is all about.

Time out. Hold on before you get too comfortable. Do you remember who Jesus was the hardest on? It wasn’t the occasional Christian. It wasn’t even the down right dirty sinner. It was the religious people. The Pharisees. We always think of them in such a negative light, but did you know that the Pharisees were some of the most devoted church attendees? They were people who wanted revival! That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? They wanted people to become more devoted to the Law that God had given them. And they strove to go above and beyond what the Law asked of them. They went the extra mile to make sure that not only were they obedient but that they were totally committed. But that wasn’t enough, because somehow, they missed the main event, they missed the real thing.

This morning my sermon is not aimed at the C&E (Christmas and Easter) Christians. I want to talk to you, the faithful, the disciples like myself, who are totally committed to this faith. I want to challenge you to take your worship to the next level.

Let’s stop and think about our worship. When you attend this worship service you know what do and when to do it. You know when to stand and when to sit. You even know where to sit. You know how long everything will take. You know the hymns. And you know when worship is over. Our worship is clearly definable. It’s neat.

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