Worship is more than just getting together once a week and sitting through an hour(ish) of singing music and reciting some words together. At least it should be more than that; much more. Worship at its most basic sense is receiving from God and also responding to him. Every part of the liturgy will fall into either one of those categories. We receive God's promises, warnings, and forgiveness –in a very physical way with the Lord's Supper. We respond with prayers and hymns of thanks.
In order to fulfill God's direction for orderly worship we follow a liturgy, something that God's people have been doing for thousands of years in various forms. Must it change? No. Can it change? Absolutely. There are two large dangers that we have to be careful of: 1) innovation and change simply for the sake of change and innovation. There is a certain comfort that we can have in using the same liturgies that we grew up with and that we know very well. There isn't any fumbling around or wondering what's coming next. Instead we can focus on the message that God gives us. 2) retaining the same worship simply because it is comfortable for us. It's very easy to get caught up in the forms and mechanics of worship and forget the purpose and the subject: God. If we can recite a prayer without even thinking about what we're saying then we have to change: change ourselves and maybe even change the prayer so that with fresh words and thoughts we can focus on the One who gives us everything and the One we are praying to.
Worship for "me" (as in each of us) should be a deeply personal thing. Yes we are gathering together as God's people to receive from God and to jointly praise and thank him, but we are also individuals. That means we will have different tastes. Some will like very traditional sounding hymns and instruments. Others find the sameness a distraction and would much rather have a variety of music and hymns (while still retaining solid Biblical ground). Which is better? Neither. Let's respect each other's desire to praise God and find joy in knowing that God makes us all different but with the same purpose and calling.
So when should I worship? That's not too much of a question. God makes it clear: whenever and wherever. But what should I wear? Ah, that's a much more difficult one to answer. Is it better to wear our Sunday best? We certainly can, and much of our culture leans in that direction. Great, but don't judge someone's faith based on the clothes they choose to worship in. David wasn't dressed in his kingly attire when the Ark of God was brought back to Jerusalem. He also danced like a fool, but that's another discussion. When Michal-his wife-confronted him, David told her that it wasn't about what he was wearing while worshiping but about God who had given him everything. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a passage that talks about men wearing ties and women wearing dresses to worship. However God is very clear: don't let your clothing be a distraction. Dress appropriately and lovingly for those you worship with. So, should we wear our Sunday best or more "comfortable" clothing? Either.
You see, we can get so caught up in the what, how, and when we worship (and comparing ourselves to others) that we miss the whole point. Don't let the form get in the way of the substance of God's message for you. Don't make it about our actions or our works, but instead, let's be ready to receive what God gives and joyfully respond to him with our unique but united voices. Amen.
June 6, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of D-day. Many television programs focused on the "honor flights" for WWII veterans. They are some-times referred to as the generation that "saved the world."
You would think that after all the blood-shed in previous armed conflicts peace would reign throughout the world. Think again! Russian President, Putin, threatens Ukraine. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the violence in Tianan-men Square, Beijing, China. There is tension between North and South Korea.
The Apostle Paul was familiar with tension. He also knew the solution. Initially there was tension between God and people and between Jew and Gentile. Jesus Christ is the solution to both. Via his suffering, death, and resurrection God has reconciled us to himself (Romans 5:11). Because of Jesus' work, God has declared himself to be at peace with us. Jesus is also the key to peace between people. St. Paul said, "For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility..." (Ephesians 2:14).
There will be wars and rumors of wars until Jesus returns (Matthew 24:6). We have the privilege of enjoying spiritual peace and serving as Christ's ambassadors by pro-claiming his peace (II Corinthians 5:20, 21).
J.A.M. stands for Jesus in the Afternoon for Me. J.A.M. is a Wednesday after-school program for children in grades 1-5. All are welcome to attend especially those who do not have a church home or Sunday school.
Children gather in St. Paul's fellowship hall after arriving from their school (they can get shuttled by bus from their school to St. Paul’s--Ask your child’s bus driver for details). The sessions begin with a snack, free time (games), a Bible lesson (beginning around 3:50), singing and craft. Children are to be picked up at 5:00 p.m. You can register your child when you bring them or by clicking the link below to our online registration form.
J.A.M. is FREE and a fun way for your child to learn valuable lessons for life and bring them closer to God.
For more information click on the link below to the J.A.M. handbook or call St. Paul's church and school office 783-2552 extension 0.