My wife reminded me that in the Anglican expression of worship, their liturgical culture includes participation in certain helpful rituals, exposure to the Scriptures, and regular partaking of the Eucharist. They call this practice the Daily Office. Most churches have less ritual but hear less Scripture.
I remember when I was pastor of a Baptist Church in Florida. I developed a pattern of ministering to families as they came forward to receive the Lord’s Supper. That historic church had lovely kneeling benches, padded, curved, located at the front of the small auditorium. Whenever I served communion on Sunday mornings, we would have worship music and singing. As each family would come and kneel, I passed in front of them praying blessings, sometimes speaking words by the Spirit, serving them wine and bread. It was a holy moment. The Lord was powerfully present among us. Tears of joy often came spontaneously to many. Grace from God was imparted and received.
At Billy Graham’s funeral, his eldest daughter, Ann Graham Lotz, described how her mother and father would read the Bible and pray with the family every day. Later, as Billy grew infirm, he asked her to read the Scriptures to him. She would explain why she chose a passage, read it to him, comment on it, and then pray. This was like a daily office.
When I was a child, before my father accepted Christ at a very late age, my mother was the one who led us boys in prayer each night. Her Bible was marked up with frequent notes and underlined verses. Her old KJV Bible was dated where she had read it through eleven times! She literally wore it out.
The Christian walk is a journey of faith that has a beginning, markers along the way, and an ending. To end well, we need to maintenance our soul, tend to our issues, and feed our faith. We can’t do it alone. We need our family and we need the church.
I was thinking about the kind of church culture we grow up in. What kind of spiritual family was it? Was it welcoming, full of grace, biblical knowledge, and spiritual gifts? Or was it dry, critical, empty of life?
Every believer in Jesus is offered a basic package of grace just by accepting Christ based on what He did on the cross for us. It starts with forgiveness. Knowing that our sins are forgiven is a cause for joy. My Savior dealt with the judgments due me for my sin. He bore the curse of sin, so I could have His gift of righteousness, plus receive eternal life. How amazing!
Beyond forgiveness, we can receive freedom. Freedom is an aspect of wholeness, of deliverance. The areas we need freedom involve breaking the bondage of habitual sins, expelling tormenting evil spirits, and the healing of our self-image; our identity in Christ as delightful children of God.
Another level awaits us; the Father’s favor! Favor is the undeniable and undeserved blessing that rests on our life. We move from the doing to being, gliding on grace, not striving by self-effort, all the while experiencing God’s providential goodness in the land of the living. This multi-generational favor causes our life to become significant. Forgiveness, freedom, favor. What’s next?
Thanks to the reminder of Billy Graham’s life and death, there is another joy that awaits us. We can become “fishers of men.” Every follower of Jesus, regardless of vocation or station, can and should be a witness of the resurrected Christ so that we will attract people to faith in Jesus.
Ron Wood is a writer, pastor, and teacher. He and his wife live in NW Arkansas near their two children and six grandchildren.