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“Unexpected Worship” by Brently Groshong

It all comes back to the same question what is worship? We explored this very question in the first part of this series in the FBC JXN Magazine, October/November 2020 and came to an interesting conclusion. The questions should not be so much “What is worship?” for we all place our devotion and allegiance someplace. The questions should rather be, “What or Who are we worshipping?”

We discovered that the more we surrender more and more of ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, we begin to change. We shift our focus of worship. We fall more in love with the Creator, the one that created us to be in harmony with Him. And we discovered that worship is not merely contained to a time and place, such as Sunday morning at a church building. It is having the heart to worship everywhere, all the time.

Even when it is inconvenient. Even when it doesn’t fall on Sunday or at a midweek prayer meeting or during our morning devotion time.

Jesus told a story about worship, and it can be hard to read.

“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).

As Christians we like to plan our outreaches and our missions, come prepared with what we would like to offer the least of these. And these ministries are important and vital to our society. They offer goods and services to people who really need them: who really need them and know where to look for them.

But worship to the least of these—worship beyond our walls—doesn’t always come neatly packaged at the time and place we scheduled.

Acts of worship to the least of these can be unexpected and inconvenient, like when that stranger on the street corner asks for money or when your co-worker’s car breaks down or when your neighbor needs someone to drive them to the hospital.

I recently experienced this in a very real and practical way. Last summer during the lockdown when Pastor Dallas Flippin and I were still pre-recording our services for streaming on Sunday mornings, I found myself still quite in the habit of getting up and wanting to be out of the house at 7 a.m. on Sundays. After a few moments of pacing the floor, I decided I needed to just get out of the house. So I grabbed a face mask and went for a coffee at the Speedway on the corner of Ganson and Wisner.

Once I purchased my coffee and a couple of donuts for the kids, I went back to my car satisfied with my coffee and outing. I closed the door and was getting ready to go home, but then out the corner of my eye, I saw a disheveled lady walking toward me.

“Excuse me, sir.”

She was broke and needed a ride. It turns out she was also homeless, carrying all her belongings in a bag she carried. She wanted to go someplace that offered hot showers and laundry facilities free of charge.

It don’t normally give rides to strangers—although I have picked up a hitchhiker or two. But that’s an entirely different story.

For this woman, I felt like I needed to give her a ride.

In the car ride, she told me her story. Life had not treated her well. Her family had abandoned her, and her health was poor. I listened to her story and knew that right there in the car I had an opportunity to worship. I didn’t have much money in my pocket, but I what I did have, I gave to her, just like Peter.

But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

God’s presence filled the car as I spoke of His goodness and how much He loved and cared about her. Her countenance lifted as we prayed together regarding her situation, and all of life’s hurdles and challenges.

It was inconvenient to meet the needs of this woman. It was not part of my plan. But I opened my car door to a person in need and was able to worship the Father as I met one simple need. I remember thinking to myself in the moment, “This is what I was made to do. This is my purpose.” Then I shared with this beloved woman where I work and told her to stop by the church someday. And then it was all over. She exited the car at her destination.

A couple of weeks later, I saw her again, just outside of our church. She wanted to let me know how things are going for her. There were positive changes, and she began to watch our Sunday morning church services at a friend’s house.

I continue to pray for her wholeness believing that God has a plan for this dear woman. And me, I continue to look for those unexpected and inconvenient opportunities to feed the hungry, provide drink to those that thirst, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. Even in this pandemic, there are plenty of opportunities. We can see needs around us and be the hands and feet of Jesus. The world is watching for those who choose to worship God in spirit and truth, anytime, anyplace.

John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.”

“Surviving the Holiday Blues” by Marilynn Fryer

During the holiday season, we sing songs of joy, of being merry and of hopeful anticipation. For some, however, the holidays are not a time of joy and hope, but instead can be difficult and depressing times. This is commonly known as the holiday blues, which can typically run from November through December.

To help fight the holiday blues, try these self-care tips:

Remember to SEE – sleep, eat right, and exercise

While the holidays are hectic times, we must make sure to care for our physical needs.

Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Adults with young children may laugh, but sleep is vital to our daily functioning.

Eating right during the holidays can be difficult and almost seems like an oxymoron. With parties and celebrations, the opportunities to skimp on nutrition are everywhere. Be careful to not let occasional indulgences become daily; fuel your body with good, nutritious food. Limit alcohol as well because alcohol is a depressant and drinking too much can worsen other negative feelings.

With all the busy-ness of the holidays, exercise may take a back seat. Don’t forget that even a 10-minute walk can do wonders for body and mind. Schedule time for exercise.

Examine your expectations 

Holidays have become increasingly commercialized, with businesses counting on sales for greater profits. Be careful not to buy into an overly commercialized holiday, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety if we think our celebration doesn’t measure up to expectations. Set a budget for your holiday gift-giving and entertaining and stick to it. Plan a holiday that fits you.

Seek out support 

While feeling sad or blue may make you want to stay home, reaching out and seeking friends can help. That is challenging during this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, but phone calls or video chats such as Google Meet can provide interaction. Look for ways to connect. Volunteering can be a good way to reach out to others, also.

Lean into faith

While the holidays may bring up many negative feelings, as Christians, we recognize that we are celebrating the greatest miracle the world has known – God becoming flesh, being born in a manger. Lean into your faith and spirituality throughout the holiday season to combat the blues and anxiety we may experience. Lifting our minds out of our current circumstances and focusing on God’s wonder can change our perspective. Practices such as prayer and meditation can bring focus and mindfulness during this hectic time.

Understand that it’s OK to feel down at times – no one is happy all the time. Be careful of the pressures that the holidays may bring. Recognizing when you’re down and knowing how to help yourself – watching a funny TV show, talking to friends and family, going for a walk or run, reading a good book or doing a favorite craft, can all help improve a blue mood.


If the blues last longer than expected or significantly impair daily functioning, you may want to talk to a doctor or mental health professional for help. The holiday blues typically leave as we get into January. With the COVID-19 pandemic, most mental health resources are available virtually.

Wishing all a merry Christmas and happy holidays!