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Worship: What a Waste of Time & Money!

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…a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
                                                                                                        -Mark 14:4-5

Yesterday we talked about how this woman (Mary) has experienced Jesus in remarkable ways and had a relationship of worship and adoration. This radically relativized everything else in her life to the point where an extravagant anointing over Jesus was (to her) a reasonable thing.
 
Not everybody saw it that way. They ran the math and the numbers didn’t add up. There were better, more efficient or more effective things that could be done with this perfume.  Good things. Important things.  They could have fed hungry people with that money, for crying out loud.
 
But this is how it always is with worship.  Apart from the stunning realization of the object of the worship, worship always appears to be a waste of both money and time.
 
At Chatham Community Church, we spend a lot of money on equipment and gear and staff to help make Sunday morning worship happen. We could, in theory, take that money and give it to the poor.
 
And then on Sunday mornings, you come. And between getting ready, driving to and fro, maybe a volunteer rotation with Chatham Kids or hospitality, and then your participation in the actual service, it’s about two-three hours of your life every time you come. You’re never getting that time back.  If you came 45 Sundays a year, that’s over 900 hours of your life each year that you’re giving over to worship.  You have plenty of other things to do.
 
And so, of course, there are lots of cynics who do the math and echo the objections of the people in this crowd. So many other things could be done with the money and the time given over to this thing called worship.
 
And plenty of people around us have given up on the whole thing. Worship does not appear to be particularly efficient at solving the presenting issues and problems we see all around us.
 
It is a waste. Unless Jesus is worth it. Unless the God he’s showing us is as good as he says he is.  Unless broken and mis-directed worship is what’s gone wrong with the world. Unless broken and mi-directed worship is what keeps going wrong with the world.  Unless all will not be right with the world until and unless all people from every nation, tribe, language and tongue are as utterly reckless in worship as the woman here is. 
 
How are you doing in your commitment to this waste of time called worship? Do you have a cynical voice that does the math and wonders if this is worth it? What do you think it means that broken and mis-directed worship is at the core of what’s gone wrong with the world? In what ways do you think a faithful practice of regular worship shapes us in life-giving ways?
 

2 Comments

Great stuff, Jan. That kind of love for worship comes from someone who's worked hard over many years to cultivate a relationship with God. You speak as one who has experienced plenty of ups and downs and found God to be faithful time and again. That often produces a life of authentic and reckless worship!
It is with joy and anticipation that I dedicate my Sunday and Wednesday mornings to worship, prayer and fellowship with Jesus. My life is valuable and it flows directly from Him. Thus it's necessary to nurture that connection with worship time. My financial tithe is not much but I gladly tithe my time. The more I offer to God the greater I am blessed in my life. You can't outgive God!!! I'm also very blessed to worship at a church based on connection to God and to others. I want to give to God, it brings me joy!

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