Ongoing Maintenance Required

Posted by Marc Schwichtenberg, Lead Pastor on

“Sir, could you step over here for a moment. I’d like to show you something!” There was something in the way the auto mechanic smirked at me that told me his request was out of the ordinary. 

It has happened innumerable times when having my car serviced at one of those fast oil change places that a mechanic has approached me with a dripping, dirty, greasy part that has come from some dark corner of my vehicle’s innards and asked whether I would like a new one. My usual reaction has been to carefully examine the filthy thing with an intelligently blank stare and then based on price or my mood, make a decision to replace or wait until the next visit.

But this occasion was different.

By the time I put down the newspaper I was perusing and walked the short distance from the customer waiting area to the car bay, I was overwhelmed to see every employee huddled around my exposed engine.  I was tempted to make a joke about their fascination with my car but was quite certain the joke was soon to be on me—this based on the fact that they all had the same curious smile on their faces. As it was, there was no joke about what they had found and had never seen before... 

My vehicle had been vandalized and victimized by a varmint!!

The signs were everywhere: wires chewed apart, plastic moldings gnawed into jagged new shapes, along with leaves, sticks and string strewn senselessly throughout my vehicle’s vital organs! After closer inspection, it was determined that the perpetrator was, in fact, a squirrel! I was flabbergasted! I mean, the thought of one of those furry things taking up mobile residence against my permission while ravaging my property made my blood boil! Yet, as the reality of the senseless deed sunk in, my thoughts moved from anger with the squirrel to anger with self...“When was the last time I brought in my car?”, I asked internally.

I had always recognized that it was important to bring your car in for servicing and preventative maintenance “every three thousand miles or three months—whichever came first.  And admittedly, while I realized it, I often waited longer because I was “too busy” or “wanted to save a few bucks.”  In truth though, it hadn’t always been a priority for me. Such was the case this time…it had been over five months (maybe even six) and I now understood what a huge mistake I had made. It was now extremely clear to me that a great deal of damage could have been avoided had I followed the expert’s recommendations for regular vehicle servicing.

It makes me wonder if the same could be said not only of my car but of people today as well? 

Maybe you, like me, have experienced personally and in others that same attitude toward ongoing spiritual maintenance. The thought that Divine servicing is optional and hardly necessary. It often ties into common practice that attending weekend worship can become the exception more than it is the norm. However, considering that the eternal Manufacturer of our lives has recommended weekly (and you could argue daily) Divine servicing for ongoing spiritual health and overall joy acceleration, it would seem to make sense that regular worship would be a priority in every believer’s life. This becomes even clearer when you consider the risks…  

To stay away from worship can mean missing an opportunity to look under our spiritual hood for signs of wear and tear in our relationship with God. To stay away from worship can mean risking serious damage to our very heart and soul—damage far surpassing the squirrel infestation of my experience. (Don’t believe me? Then read 1 Peter 5:8-9) All of these risks pale in comparison to what our God promises, and does, when we attend worship regularly.

I love the fact that every week when I bring in my sputtering life for Divine servicing through worship at St. John my Master Mechanic Jesus is always thrilled not only to offer me a few new replacement parts but He goes even further:  You are “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” because “I am making everything new!” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Rev. 21:5)  Jesus has found a way through His Word and Sacrament to take my broken, sinful life and in exchange, give me a brand new one! I then get to drive home in newfound forgiveness, peace and excitement…all free of charge!!! If you can imagine taking your rusted-out Ford Pinto in for an oil change and driving home in a brand new Cadillac for free, you are beginning to understand what God does every week in worship for His people!!  A new car always performs better than an old one…so does a new life in Jesus. ButHis offer goes even further as he also fills up personal gas tanks with high-octane Spirit power to face whatever challenge or struggle comes down the road in the coming week! 

It all comes through worship!  But to experience the benefits, you actually have to come.   

As we begin a New Year with new beginnings, I pray that weekly worship attendance would be or become a family priority in your house…no matter how busy you are. 

I’m looking forward to seeing you there more and more and I can’t wait to hear about the ride home! 

In Jesus I am Yours,


Pastor Marc Schwichtenberg


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