300 S. Ardmore Ave. Villa Park, IL 60181

Worship Times

Saturday - 4:30 pm Sunday - 8:00 am & 10:30 am Christian Education Sunday - 9:15 am

 

The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:2-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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Worship Service

August 20, 2017
August 13, 2017
August 6, 2017
July 30, 2017
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Pentecost 9 – August 6, 2017
Text:            Matt. 14:13-21
Theme:         “Starving to Death at a Banquet”   

 

      God cares for his people.  Most people assume this but they think too narrowly.  They think God loves them but doesn’t really get involved with their day to day lives?  That is not what the Bible says.  The Bible says that God loves us not only spiritually, but he cares deeply about our day to day physical lives.  What we experience in this temporal life, the physical realities of life is a foreshadowing of the eternal spiritual lives to which we look forward.  The joys we experience in this physical life will be magnified a million times in the life to come.  And the sorrows and pains we experience in this physical life will be evaporated in the life to come.  If God cares for our physical lives by physically feeding us, as Jesus did in the feeding of the 5,000, then he surely provides nourishment for our spiritual lives as well.  This spiritual food that God gives us is in fact more important and more valuable than any number of fish sandwiches.

      So that brings me to my question of the day.  Knowing that God provides for both physical and spiritual nourishment, why would we gladly receive the former and be so tempted to ignore the later?  Our low worship attendance bothers me.  It bothers me when you the faithful few miss worship for no good reason, and it bothers me even more when some of our family miss worship regularly for no good reason.  It bothers every pastor I know, and every time I tell you about it, I know that I am largely preaching to the choir because you people are the ones who are here most weeks.  Yet, until we have a solution to the problem of low worship attendance, that is to say, until the whole family gathers regularly to receive their necessary spiritual food, I am compelled by God to keep bringing it up. So let’s solve this problem, once and for all.  Possible solutions include:

      Be more legalistic.  Make people feel guiltier for missing worship.  Make them think that God is angry with them when they choose to sleep in or play golf or work in the yard instead of coming to worship.  The problem with that tactic is that it is a bald-faced lie used to manipulate people.  Some might say that the end justifies the means and if we have to lie a little to get people to do what they should be doing anyway, well that’s a small price to pay. But I just can’t bring myself to lie about what God says, regardless of the short-term payoff. 

      Obviously I would love to have four or five hundred people here every week like you did back in the seventies and early eighties, but I am not willing to put words in God’s mouth to accomplish that goal.  God is clear about how he thinks.  Look at our Isaiah text. There is nothing legalistic about that.  It is God calling us to a wonderful diner that he has prepared for us.  The banquet is set out and waiting to be consumed.

“Come, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

      Another way to solve the low worship attendance problem is to put on a really good show that will attract people to come and be entertained.  We can hire a really great band.  I can work to always preach motivational, upbeat sermons with lots of jokes and stories that make people feel good about themselves because, hey, everybody likes feeling good about himself.  Wait. We can cook bacon and eggs in the Trinity Center and draw them in with the smells of breakfast wafting across the Prairie Path.  But, here’s the problem.  How long can we sustain that plan?  If your commitment to regular worship is based on a good show and good food, how long will it be until a better show comes into town or Simon’s offers a super deal on a fabulous breakfast?  One thing that is true of all shows is this; eventually, all shows close.  And every restaurateur knows that you are only as hot as your last big creation.  Good shows and great food do not seem very sustainable and it definitely is not what got us through our first 100 years.

      Maybe there is a third option to solve this problem of low worship attendance.  God provides an amazing banquet for us every week, offering us life, salvation and the strength for daily living on top of an amazing social support network in our church family.  Sometimes we forget that what we have is not what everyone has.  Many people live is a world where the church is a social club.  It exists to serve her members and sometimes provide some social ministry to the community.  Trinity is a deeply connected family.  Over half of you are biologically connected but it does not take long at all to be drawn into the leaves of this family tree. 

      No matter what challenge I face in this unpredictable life, I know you have my back.  I know that my family and I are loved and supported in this place.  This is not common.  Don’t imagine that any of your neighbors and friends experience church the way we experience church.  In a world of disconnectedness and individuality we need to be connected with one another and this is the place, the hub of our connection.  I contend that many of us have not realized that.  That is why so many are lackadaisical about worship and Bible Study. We don’t comprehend that it is God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper that connect us together.  There is love abounding in this place because of him working through us.  But I think it is sinful human nature to have contempt for the familiar.

      I grew up in a family where we always had meals together when we were home.  Breakfast was at 7 and dinner was at 6 and even when it was down to just Mom, Dad and me, we sat around the table together for meals and talked.  Sometimes that seemed brutally painful to me.  Other kids did not have to sit around the table with their parents at meals.  Other kids had one of those new-fangled inventions of my generation, the microwave, and they could just heat up whatever they wanted to eat, whenever they wanted to eat it.  When I got my first apartment, I was so excited to be done with family meals.  Boy it got lonely eating sandwiches and left over spaghetti sitting by myself in an apartment.  The TV was a poor substitute for family.  That which I had always loathed was what I missed most.

      Compare worship to a family gathering for dinner, maybe even a special dinner like Thanksgiving dinner.  What would we do if we were all gathered around the table and noticed that one member of the family was still in his bedroom and had not come for dinner.  Would we just ignore it because it’s too much work to figure out why?  Would we shun the one missing from the family and decide that if he’s not there for dinner, he’s not treated as part of the family any longer?  Or would we go to the missing one, find him and invite him over and over again to come to dinner, to taste and see how good it is?  Would we never give up on him joining us eventually and keep inviting no matter how long it took? 

      None of us would allow family members to go hungry.  We know how important it is to eat. Without food, eventually he will die.  Maybe that’s the solution to our low worship attendance.  Who do you know in the family who is missing this amazing meal this week?  Hey, for that matter, who do you know outside the family, in the community, who is missing this amazing fellowship surrounding this miraculous feast that strengthens our faith in the salvation that has been won for us on the cross and the eternal life that awaits us in paradise?

 

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