Tag Archives: Worship

Sing a New Song

Advent
December 20, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

 I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
   with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
   your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Psalm 89:1-2

I rose from my chair to do my steps just as a commercial playing Jingle Bells began. Walking to happy familiar music lightened my step and brightened my day.  My dad played the guitar and sang almost every day of my childhood. I went to sleep to music many nights. I find myself singing familiar hymns as I am praying. They just seem to fit at times. I do think I will sing of Gods steadfast love forever.

Tell it on the Mountain* is our choral call to service at Christmas. Not only are we to tell Christ’s story from the mountain tops but also over the hills and everywhere. We do that not only with our words but with our lives as examples. I am now caught up in the busyness of the season, and sometimes, if we let it, that busyness can crowd out the joy we experience in welcoming Immanuel, God with us in human form.

Intentionality is a word I now add to my worship lexicon. It applies to all aspects of our lives with Christ. Building worship into my everyday life is key to maintaining my relationship with God. Singing the old familiar songs gladdens the heart. Singing a new song brightens the future.

Refrain:
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

 While shepherds kept their watching
O’er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.

 The shepherds feared and trembled,
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed the Savior’s birth.

 Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born,
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.

Prayer: Immanuel, write on our hearts a new song of love as the message we can proclaim to future generations. Amen.

*http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Go_Tell_It_on_the_Mountain/

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Worship from the Heart

Lift up your heartsLiving in the Spirit
August 1, 2016

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Hear the word of the Lord,
   you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
   you people of Gomorrah!
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
   says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams
   and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
   or of lambs, or of goats. –Isaiah 1:10-11

The word “worship” is defined as both a transitive and an intransitive verb. A transitive verb requires a direct object, and intransitive verb does not. What was the object of the sacrifices made by the Israelites? Isaiah intimates that God is not experiencing the Israelites worship as being directed at God because it does not acknowledge what is meaningful to God.

The sacrificial offerings required in the Israelite’s worship were extensive. Some, designed to atone for one’s sins to God, interpreted an individual’s offering as being meaningful to God resulting in cleansing from sins. Other sacrifices brought thanksgiving to God based on a progressive system where someone with more wealth offered a bullock and someone with a lower income, a lamb. Mary and Joseph offered two pigeons in a purification ritual shortly after Jesus’ birth.

While it might be easy to set aside what might be considered outdated, archaic customs, the lesson for us is important even though the acts of worship may be different. If our relationship with God based only on external rituals have no relationship to our inward commitment, it loses all meaning in its transmission to God.

Prayer: Lord, let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you*. Amen.

 

*Adapted from Psalm 19:14

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Worship

adorationEastertide
April 8, 2016

Scripture Reading: Revelation 5:11-14

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
for ever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.
–Revelation 5:13-14

What do we mean when we say we “Go to worship” or “attend worship”? We have made a noun out of a verb form although the word used is the same. The synonyms for worship are venerate and adore.

Veneration is a feeling of respect mingled with awe excited by the dignity, wisdom, or superiority of a person, by sacredness of character, by consecrated state, or by hallowed association*. Veneration is a noun formed from the verb to venerate.

Adoration is worship given to God alone**. Adoration is a noun formed from the verb to adore.

The Greek word used here in Revelation literally means to kiss the ground when prostrating before a superior***. The Greek word is a verb.

So what difference does it make whether we perceive worship as a noun or a verb? While our cultural customs may differ from those practiced in the first century, the example here from Revelation is a description of action not of a person, place, or thing as we learned a noun was in elementary school. Worship of God is our intentional recognition of God as the core of our faith, the one and only core of our faith to which we extend our reverence not only in praise and adoration from the depths of our souls but also in the dedication of every aspect of our lives to service that honors God.

Prayer: Lord, we bow our heads, lift up our arms, close our eyes, sing, dance, pray to let you know how much you mean to us. Let our praise of you be a source of energy for our service to you. Amen.

*http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/veneration
**http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/Adoration
***http://biblehub.com/greek/4352.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Getting in Shape Spiritually

Mind Body Spirit fitnessLent
February 14, 2016

Scripture Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
   and serve only him.”’ –Luke 4:5-7

Worship and serve are two active verbs requiring action not lip service. Yet lip service is what I am hearing a lot of lately. I think it would be really hard to be faithful to a commitment to Jesus Christ when one is on the front page of the paper as a politician or sports figure or other celebrity. Some of them are made idols themselves by others. This is particularly true in this season of campaigning where one’s faith becomes a  card used to win voters.

One doesn’t have to be well known to become caught in this struggle. We all deal with putting God first in our lives. We sometimes reduce God to a being that supports our own viewpoints, thus creating God in our desired image. We, too, can serve God to our own interest. Believing our church activities might look good on a resume’.

Like athletes we need to hone our skills at being God followers before we step onto the playing court or field. We must be so in tune with God that our worship and service is the right automatic response because many times in the game of life we do not have time to ponder situations. Lent is a time designed to prepare us for the game of life with all its challenges. We must devote time in study and prayer getting ourselves in the best spiritual shape possible.

Prayer: Lord, walk with me throughout Lent as I strive to improve my readiness for service to you. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Sacraments

Holy SpiritEpiphany
January 7, 2016

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:14-17

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

One of the amazingly understated phenomenon of this scripture is the uneventful reporting of the need for apostles to visit the folks in Samaria. The Jews and the Samaritans had not seen eye-to-eye for many years. They were the unclean to each other. We know that Jesus was opened to the Samaritans as he used a Samaritan as a shining example of his way in one of his parables. (Luke 10: 25-37) He also asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. (John 4:4–26) Talking to an unrelated woman was bad enough, but a Samaritan. Teachers never really know what sticks until it plays out in real life.

The need for the trip itself may have been as much about reassuring the Samaritans of their welcome into the Body of Christ as it was about making sure they had received the right messages or actions. Or it could have meant that the apostles wanted to check out the new members themselves. My mother was one of the most devoted Christians I have ever known but she was ultimately baptized three times. Sprinkled at birth as an infant in the Methodist church, the Christian Church required that she be baptized again because at that time they only recognized immersion. Eventually, she and my dad joined another group that didn’t recognize any other baptism. My Mom probably consented to do this because she thought it would be of benefit to my Dad or the witnesses or both. I think she was confident in her relationship with God throughout her life.

We still struggle with the proper trappings of church. I do think sacraments are important. Humans seem to have a need to memorialize major life changes and situations. We must remember in these public acts of faith; it is our private relationship with God that really matters.

Prayer: Lord, as we celebrate you in our worship and in our sacraments, touch our hearts with the warmth of your love and renew us once again to our service for you. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.