Sunday morning the sun rose with pink and orange fire, silently brilliant across the sky. Our family toddled noisily through the silence of the morning and were buckled into the car. "Why do we have to go to church?" my five year old whined. Being strapped into stiff clothes, child car seats, and a five point harness, the question was a fair one. There was little choice about his clothes, the seat, the seat belt, or the destination. However, he rarely complained about going to church . . . surprisingly he likes going to church.
I tried to duck the question with distraction, "look at those birds up on the high wire looking at the heavens." This time diverting my son's eyes did not divert his question, "Why don't birds have to go to church?"
Ok, there was no escaping. This was the pre-game for repeating this question all the way to church. An endless game of, "But why Daddy?" "I don't want to go" "Why do we have to go." So, I had to audible a blitz on his questions.
"The birds are already in church," I said.
"Hugh?" he cocked his face and wrinkled his nose.
"Sure they are already in church. They are always in church."
"How can they be in church?" he asked.
The best way to answer a five-year-old's question is usually another question. "They are outside under trees and flying through the sky. Who made the world?"
Yes, that is right. God made the sky, sun to rise, trees to raise their branches, and wind to blow. They are exactly where they need to be worshiping God in all that they do.
Humans, while somewhat different, could learn from the birds of the air. We are always in the sanctuary of God.
Long before we strap in to a new day - Sunday or Thursday, comfy cloths or starched - we have the skin that provides sanctuary to God in a world that is his sanctuary. How we sit on a wire and watch the sunrise on Sunday and how we respond to voice mail on Monday is as much worship at pew sitting.
Sunday worship then begins to look like a whole different skyline. It is not a "have to" but a chance to fly with other creatures and explore how we might better worship God in every moment. Birds, sunrises, seat belts, and children included.
When our worship becomes strapped human routine, it will be the sky that worships because "the heavens declare the righteousness of God." Jesus himself said that rocks will speak if we refuse to speak. I will be watching the birds, soaking in sunrises, and laughing with children. Because if I listen closely enough I can hear a crescendo much larger that the worship I attend, prefer, demand or ignore.
May you find sanctuary in God and may God himself find sanctuary in you.