The Obscure Path of Worship
You may recall these lines from this past year’s Christmas musical. They were words that George Bailey spoke to Mary on their first “date.” He said:
"Mary, I know what I'm going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I'm going to leave this little town far behind, and I'm going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum. Then I'm coming back here, and I'll go to college and see what they know, and then I'm going to build things. I'm going to build air fields. I'm going to build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I'm going to build bridges a mile long."
As it turns out, George is wrong. He doesn't know what he's going to do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. As it turns out, what he is supposed to do tomorrow is pretty much what he did today. God's plan for him is to do the ordinary thing—which, of course, is the last thing that George wants to do. If you remember another famous scene from the film, you know that George Bailey wants to lasso the moon.
In his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson recounts the story of the fourth century church father Gregory of Nyssa whose brother Basil had arranged for him to be made bishop of Cappadocia. "Gregory objected," Peterson writes. "He didn't want to be stuck in such an out-of-the-way place. His brother told him he didn't want Gregory to obtain distinction from his church but to confer distinction upon it." Is this not what Christ wants for us as well? To lower our sights and put away our lasso? To seek the good of the small places in which he has placed us and to confer distinction upon them by serving him with humility there? The path of worship is often an obscure one. It is the way of the cross, and it always involves becoming a living sacrifice. That is the how of worship.