Formations 05.01.2022: Together and in Private

Mark 1:32-39; Hebrews 10:19-25

A few years ago I went with my parents and daughters to Amelia Island, Florida. It was a difficult time for my family, as my husband and I had separated and none of us knew what should happen next. While my girls played at the shoreline with their grandparents, I took a long walk alone down the beach. The reassuring sound of waves that never stopped, the firm wet sand soothing my feet with every step, the smell of salt on the wind, and the sight of sea birds gliding through the air calmed me. At one point, I stopped and stood at the edge of the ocean, letting the surf wash over my feet and recede. In that holy moment, I felt God with me in a powerful way. This was worship.

On another occasion, I stood among friends and family, surrounded by a loving church community, and sang “It Is Well with My Soul,” one of my favorite hymns. Our wonderful pianist accompanied us with feeling, swelling in volume at the peak of the refrain: “It is well, it is well with my soul!” The voices around me, even those from people who weren’t gifted with great singing skills, sounded like a chorus of angels. Light shone through the windows, revealing the fresh green of the trees just outside. At that moment, we all felt fully confident that no matter what happened to us, God loved us and was with us—and so it was well with our souls. This was worship.

Worship is powerful and essential, but it can take many forms. My walk on the beach in a time of distress was just as meaningful as my singing with the congregation in a time of assurance. The purpose of worship is to adore God and let God’s presence envelop us.

My husband and I reconciled and built a stronger marriage, but even if we hadn’t, I am confident that God would have walked with us and remained worthy of our worship. In the good times and bad, on the exciting days and the boring ones, when we reach milestones or when we live out the everyday and ordinary, God is with us and is worthy of worship.

Discussion

• In our text from Mark, Jesus goes out alone to be with God without telling his disciples (Mark 1:35-36). He seems to need this time away from the crowds, the incessant questions, and the needs of others. Where do you go and what do you do when you need to be alone with God? How do those times restore you?
• In our text from Hebrews, the writer urges believers to keep meeting together to encourage each other in “love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24). Do you gather regularly with others for worship and Bible study? If so, how do these times restore you? Why is it important to be part of a church?
• How has your worship changed depending on your circumstances? Can you praise God just as easily during times of trial as during times of peace?
• What steps can you take to make worship a more regular part of your life, whether together with others or in private?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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