Fill Your Soul

May 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Pastor's Corner

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I remember our first Memorial Day in Evansville. It was eight years ago. We had one child, who had just turned one year old the day before. My parents-in-law were in town for the celebration, and on Monday morning we planned to go to the Memorial Day parade. We decided to walk down Main Street from our house, toward downtown, so we grabbed the stroller and thought we left in time. When we were about two blocks away, we saw the parade begin by turning the corner at the library and marching toward the cemetery. When we were about one block away, we saw the parade end and local residents start walking toward us. We missed the whole parade!

We had good intentions. We wanted to show respect for those who died while serving our country. We wanted to stand in solidarity with our new local community. But it didn’t work out like we hoped. We walked to the corner where the parade started, waved, and returned home.

Most years since then I have attended the Memorial Day event at Maple Hill Cemetery. But not every year. Some years I have gotten distracted or made other choices. I might feel low on energy or get working in the garden or start a project that I don’t want to interrupt. I’ve reasoned with myself that I can be grateful for my country from the privacy of my own home or yard. So I’ll stop and take a moment of silence and say a prayer and carry on. I’ve probably had a year when I didn’t even do that much. And I’m lesser for it.

The years that I have gone to Maple Hill for the Memorial Day observance I have not regretted it. I gaze at the flag. I hear the high school band play. I hear from local leaders and military personnel a tribute to people I’ll never know this side of heaven whose lives have impacted mine for good. I stand with my community and share greetings and handshakes and smiles. I tell you, I always leave feeling better. The day feels more complete and right. And there’s still plenty of time in the day to work and rest and play. And hopefully grill out.

I find some parallels between the annual events of Memorial Day and the weekly worship of the church. Some of the same things happen to us come Sunday morning or Saturday evening. We might have good intentions of gathering with God’s people for worship, but something gets in the way. We can get distracted and make other choices. We might have trouble mustering the energy, or we get into a project we don’t want to pause. “I can pray to God at home,” we’ll reason. “I don’t have to go to worship to love God and follow Jesus,” which is true.

But when we gather to worship the God of heaven and earth, who gives us life and breath and all things, we don’t regret it. No matter the quality of preaching or music, we will not regret giving God our attention, our affection, and our gratitude. Our worship gatherings set the rhythms of our days and our weeks. We gaze at the cross. We unite with our brothers and sisters in faith as we breathe together and sing songs of praise. We hear God speak to us through God’s word in scripture, song, and speech. We turn to the One who gave his life for us so that we could have life today and forever. We stand with our community and share more than handshakes and smiles – we share support and peace.

When we come to worship Jesus Christ as our risen Lord and Savior, we are raised up and our souls are filled. Yes, we might have to be gracious toward imperfect people. We might have to look beyond distractions. But Jesus even meets us in those diversions. Our days and our lives feel more complete and right when they are centered on worshipping God. And we’ll still have the time we need to rest, work, and play. And grill out.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Poock

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust.”

-Psalm 25:1



  • Brooke Fraser

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