Devotion and Prayer for Week of March 10, 2013

Meditation for the week of March 10, 2013 

“. . . I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

John 10:10


Apparently it has been scientifically proven:  regular worship attendance decreases your overall risk of mortality.  The recently released study conducted by Yeshiva University’s medical school undertook the task to determine what linkage, if any, there is between a person’s religiosity and his or her biological mechanisms.  After surveying 92,395 women between the ages of 50 and 79, they discovered that those who attend worship at least once a week saw a 20 percent reduction in mortality.  Thus, the headline, “Study Suggests Worship Services Reduces Risk of Death.”

So . . . come one, come all!  We’re here weekly!  In fact, with Lent upon us, and additional services being added in some places, perhaps you can reduce your chance of death by 30, maybe even 40 percent!

If you detect a hint of sarcasm here, you are absolutely right.  While I am in no way knocking worship attendance (as Christians, worship should be our priority) and while regular worship attendance may add to the overall satisfaction one has in life, it will not reduce our risk of death.  Whether we go to worship or not, there is a one to one correspondence between human beings and death.  Without trying to be flippant, none of us leaves this earth alive.  Death comes to us all.

Now, granted, although the headline for this study is phrased a bit ironically, I acknowledge that the researchers are not really suggesting that worship will increase your chances of not dying by 20 percent.  They are merely suggesting that there seems to be a correlation between worshiping and living longer.  My point, however, is that this 100% death rate we the human race experience is a reality we all must face.  Even if we do all the things science suggests we do in order to prolong our lives, eat well, exercise, get regular check-ups, and now, apparently, attend worship, we will still come to a day when we will breathe our last.  It is the wages of our sin.  It is the righteous judgment for our transgressions.  I am not trying to be maudlin or morose, but it is the problem we human beings face.

It is because of this problem of death, however, that Christ Jesus came into the world.  As John tells us in the above verse, Jesus says, “I have come that they may life and have it to the full.”  This was his mission:  to bring life to we who die.  This is why Christ came in our flesh.  This is why he dwelt among us.  This is why he went to the cross.  This is why he bore our sins and died in our place.  All this he did to defeat death for us so that we might live eternally.

Do you want to live forever?  Jesus Christ, his cross and his empty tomb are our only hope.  You can hear about him every Sunday in worship and now, during Lent, every Wednesday where we ponder together his great sacrifice for us.  There, in the liturgy which wraps us in God’s holy Word and in the message proclaimed from the pulpit, you will be pointed to the One who came to give life.  You will hear of the One who died for you.

Am I now agreeing with the study?  I suppose, in a way, I am.  Worship attendance will reduce your risk for death . . . that is, eternal death.   It will reduce it not because your merely attend but because of the message of the gospel proclaimed.  The message of the gospel, of Jesus’ death and resurrection, is what gives life.  Be sure during this Lenten season, as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, to join us for worship because for those who by faith believe in Jesus, it will reduce the risk of death by 100%!


Our Weekly Prayer

Heavenly Father, Gracious Lord, by the sin of Adam and Eve, death came to all people but through the death of your one and only Son, Jesus our Savior, you have brought life and immortality to light.  Thank you for this gift of life that you have granted to us freely and help us each day to remember why your Son came:  that we might have life and have it to the full!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.