Vol. 9, No. 1
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Archaeology is the scientific study of the life and culture of past peoples, as by the excavation of ancient cities, buildings, artifacts and such. As one archaeologist put it, "No one else could get so excited by someone else's trash!" And yet, sifting through the debris and evidence of civilizations long gone, one is able to learn much about life in ancient times. The trash, belongings and reverberations of ancient civilizations left behind have a story to tell.
While worship is expressed outwardly, it begins and is offered from within. Just sitting in a building where worship is happening doesn't mean everyone in it has worshipped. Of course, God knows our hearts, even if we can hide our thoughts and motives from others. Sometimes, however, you might learn what was going on inside a person, much like the archaeologist, by examining what has been left behind. Of all the experiences that any building has seen where people worship, it sometimes makes you wonder what it would say if it could talk.
"Just look at all the bulletins crammed into the songbook racks, and left on the pews. Have they truly taken note of those mentioned in it that are ill and need prayer? Have they considered the good works promoted in it, and chosen some way to be involved? Did they think about the article written in it, and if there was someone they could pass it on to, who needed its encouragement or warnings? Why did they leave it as trash?"
"So many other things scattered around. Candy and gum wrappers, dirty tissues, fingernail clippings and notes written back and forth to one another, all left here and there. Here's a cell phone left in a pew; can you believe someone was text messaging someone else while the holy God was being worshipped? Has respect become so outdated, no one takes the time to prepare his heart and focus on offering God his best? Adults and children both leave so much behind that show how little they think of their Savior! Is the service that boring? Could they not take notes during the sermon, follow along with the Scriptures and participate in the other avenues of worship? Is it so hard to commune instead of being entertained?"
"And what a commotion out in the foyer! The echoes of trivial conversations still ring here, while praise was being offered to God at the same time by others. Why didn't they go back to enter worship instead of staying out here, talking about everything but the spiritual, the holy? It's no wonder they leave as empty as they came and gain nothing for living more like God and less like the world, more for eternal life."
Yes, like the science of archaeology, much of what we leave behind has a lot to say about us, about who we are and about how or whether we worshipped. Perhaps, by examining our hearts and thoughts as we assemble to worship, our building could echo with the songs so joyfully sang, prayers so reverently offered, sermons diligently prepared and taken to heart, the Lord's Supper thoughtfully taken, and our financial resources gladly and bountifully offered. Maybe what would be known about us would be seen in our lives, and not the trash we leave behind.