The Heart of Worship (3) – Worship in Spirit and Truth

Good Morning and welcome to Worship today.  Our family is on our annual holiday for two weeks and today we are setting up our tents and camping site at a caravan park in Yamba, NSW.  I haven’t missed many worship services on a Sunday, but today I’m experiencing how it feels to know that my church family is in worship at home while I’m elsewhere.  I’m very appreciative of Jill and Marty’s ministry amongst us as they lead you in worship and seek to continue our series on The Heart of Worship.  We are in the midst of building one of our four pillars – the pillar of worship.

Jill will be addressing the aspect of worship that picks up the theme of worshipping God in Spirit and Truth.  I’d like to share some reflections on that theme from the pen of Selwyn Hughes and Philip Greenslades in their daily devotional called Every Day with Jesus dated 11th October 2013.  They have based the following reflections on the passage that Jill is using today with you at Ashmore Uniting Church.  It is from John 4:1-26.  “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…’(v23).

Today we pick up on the words of Jesus in which He says that the Father seeks worshippers.  And so the main focus of our meditations is now made by Jesus Himself.  It could be said that Jesus came to seek and save the Father’s lost worshippers.  This one Samaritan woman, who had sought to satisfy her deep spiritual thirst possibly through sexual fulfillment, comes ‘thirsty’ to the well.  There she meets the One who has living water to offer – water that will satisfy her parched heart and end her relentless search for inner peace and happiness.

Jesus introduces a new thought into the concept of worship: we are saved in order to worship the Father ‘in spirit and truth’.  God is Spirit, and we worship Him properly when we are in a spiritual relationship with Him.  To worship ‘in spirit’ is explained by George Beasley-Murray in this way: ‘The worship that God seeks is not frozen to a sacred building  …  or tradition, but a worship which is living, the ever new response to God who is Spirit as prompted by and enabled by the Spirit of God.’

If that is what is meant by worshipping ‘in spirit’ what does it mean to worship ‘in truth’?  Well, it means so much more than worshipping sincerely because it is possible to be sincere but sincerely wrong.  To worship ‘in truth’ is to offer worship that is rooted in knowledge, in contrast to the Samaritan woman’s ignorance (v.22).  It is worship based upon the reality, which is revealed in Jesus Christ who is Himself the truth.  Anew day has dawned, said Jesus.  The time has come when no longer does worship depend on sacrifices or rituals.  We are free to worship God anywhere and everywhere.

Today as our family set up our campsite in the beautiful surrounds of the Clarence River in the Blue Dolphin Caravan Park in Yamba, we will be taking hold of that thought of worshipping God ‘anywhere and everywhere’, as we worship in the outdoors today, in Spirit and in Truth.

God bless you as worship God every day …. this week ….. in Spirit and in Truth.

Rev. Brad Foote

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The Heart of Worship (2)

We began our journey into The Heart of Worship last week.  Over the next few months our congregation will be exploring Worship on a number of levels.  We’ll look at the context of Worship from a Biblical, theological, experiential, practical and experimental point of view.  A number of different people will be leading and preaching over the coming weeks to broaden our understanding of Worship.  Why might we be doing this you may be asking?  As a result of the review we conducted last year, our congregation identified four pillars that we wanted to grow or focus on over the next few years within the life of Ashmore Uniting Church.  The pillars were articulated as:-

  1. The pillar of Worship
  2. The pillar of Children and families
  3. The pillar of Stewarding and resourcing
  4. The pillar of serving people in need

The Church Council who are responsible for the oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation have suggested that we build one pillar at a time rather than trying to build all four pillars at once.  We have prayerfully been led to grow the Worship pillar first as we consider it to be the central focus of our congregational and individual lives.  The other pillars will be developed over the next 12 – 18 months.

We began our worship journey last week by recognizing that every human being has been created to worship.  Who and what we worship can be almost anything.  From our Christian perspective we learnt that the whole subject of worship rises and falls according to our understanding and concept of God.  We simply do not worship God in the way He created us to worship until we understand something of who He is.  So, “Who God is” and what we often have as our ‘image’ of God influences and sometime distorts our understanding of worship.

Although the word “Worship” is not mentioned until Genesis 22:1-19 (particularly verse 5 where Abraham is taking Isaac up the mountain to worship God in response to God testing Abraham’s obedience), the essence and rhythm of worship begins in the first chapter of Genesis with a beautiful resounding chorus – “and it was good,(v.4,10,12,18,21,25) and it was good, and it was excellent in every way (v.31)” (Gen 1:1-31).

We find that the meaning of the word “Worship” has strong links to, and is derived from the word “work” and so Cain and Abel’s offerings of grain from the fields and the best sheep from the herds are given back to God in an act of ‘worship’ in Genesis 4, even though the word (worship) is not specifically used in the passage.  Noah also takes extra animal/birds on the Ark in readiness for him to “build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice (an offering of worship) to the Lord (Gen: 8.20).  Further in Genesis chapter 11 we see the Tower of Babel being built as a “monument to our greatness”(Gen: 11.4).  This is an expression of worshipping us/ourselves rather than God.  Hence the first commandment to be given to Moses later in Exodus is specifically about God being number one.  “I Am the Lord your God, you shall worship no other Gods besides me” Exodus 20:2,3)

In our family service today we are going to explore the experience of Moses meeting God on Mount Sinai (Exodus Chapter 3:1-12 “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (v.12).  This is only the second time that the word Worship has been mentioned in the Bible, but as you can see from my cursory discourse above, the Heart of Worship has already been firmly established throughout the Old Testament up to this point.

As we develop the Pillar of Worship today, take off your shoes because you are standing on Holy Ground.  May the glory of God, the presence of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit surround you, embrace you, comfort you, challenge you and encourage you today and into the week.

Try walking in the shoes of another….. this week!   Rev. Brad Foote

The Heart of Worship (1)

Every week I generally “greet you and welcome you to worship”.  But what is WORSHIP?  Over the next few months our congregation will be going on a journey of exploration, about worship.  Why might we be doing this you may be asking?  As a result of the review we conducted last year, our congregation identified four pillars that we wanted to grow or focus on over the next few years within the life of Ashmore Uniting Church.  The pillars were articulated as:-

  1. The pillar of Worship
  2. The pillar of Children and families
  3. The pillar of Stewarding and resourcing
  4. The pillar of serving people in need

The Church Council who are responsible for the oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation have suggested that we build one pillar at a time rather than trying to build all four pillars at once.  We have prayerfully been led to grow the Worship pillar first as we consider it to be the central focus of our congregational and individual lives.  The other pillars will be developed over the next 12 – 18 months.

Last Sunday (being Father’s Day) our theme was The Father Heart of God.  This Sunday we are still looking at The Heart, but it is The Heart of Worship.  Any examination of what worship is must begin with an understanding about who God is.  The whole subject of worship rises and falls according to our understanding and concept of God.  Last week in our Father’s Day service we looked at a number of images and concepts that we may have about what God is like or how we see God.  We particularly considered the image of “Father” and how Jesus related to God in a very intimate and personal way.  In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father – that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)

Today as we move towards focusing on worship, we need to recognize that we simply do not worship God in the way God created us to worship until we understand something of who God is.  What comes into our minds when we think about God is most important.  Worship is pure and base according to whether the worshipper considers high or low thoughts about God.  A wrong concept of God will lead to wrong conclusions about God.  For example if you entertain the thought that God does not have your highest interests at heart then it will most certainly affect the way you worship God.  You cannot worship someone you don’t trust.

The great reformer Martin Luther took to task the priests of his day because they portrayed God as prominently stern, punitive, demanding and angry.  They seemed to know nothing of the love that God had for His children in sending His Son to be their savior.  In other words, they carried a concept of God that was unworthy of God.  Luther himself viewed God in those harsh terms early in his life.  However one day as he received a revelation from Scripture it revolutionized his concept of God, and that revelation led to what we now call the Reformation (1500-1650).

As we share this WORSHIP journey together over the next few months, I hope that we will have a REFORMATION as God re-forms and re-veals to us what it means to be worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).  I don’t really know what that is going to look like or feel like or taste like or sound like, but I’m very excited to partner with everyone in the congregation in finding out what God’s Holy Spirit is going to reveal to us as we develop the Pillar of Worship.

So I invite you in the words of the psalmist to ‘Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together’ (Psalm 34:3) …. this week….Rev. Brad Foote

 

The Heart of Worship (1)

Every week I generally “greet you and welcome you to worship”.  But what is WORSHIP?  Over the next few months our congregation will be going on a journey of exploration, about worship.  Why might we be doing this you may be asking?  As a result of the review we conducted last year, our congregation identified four pillars that we wanted to grow or focus on over the next few years within the life of Ashmore Uniting Church.  The pillars were articulated as:-

  1. The pillar of Worship
  2. The pillar of Children and families
  3. The pillar of Stewarding and resourcing
  4. The pillar of serving people in need

The Church Council who are responsible for the oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation have suggested that we build one pillar at a time rather than trying to build all four pillars at once.  We have prayerfully been led to grow the Worship pillar first as we consider it to be the central focus of our congregational and individual lives.  The other pillars will be developed over the next 12 – 18 months.

Last Sunday (being Father’s Day) our theme was The Father Heart of God.  This Sunday we are still looking at The Heart, but it is The Heart of Worship.  Any examination of what worship is must begin with an understanding about who God is.  The whole subject of worship rises and falls according to our understanding and concept of God.  Last week in our Father’s Day service we looked at a number of images and concepts that we may have about what God is like or how we see God.  We particularly considered the image of “Father” and how Jesus related to God in a very intimate and personal way.  In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father – that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)

Today as we move towards focusing on worship, we need to recognize that we simply do not worship God in the way God created us to worship until we understand something of who God is.  What comes into our minds when we think about God is most important.  Worship is pure and base according to whether the worshipper considers high or low thoughts about God.  A wrong concept of God will lead to wrong conclusions about God.  For example if you entertain the thought that God does not have your highest interests at heart then it will most certainly affect the way you worship God.  You cannot worship someone you don’t trust.

The great reformer Martin Luther took to task the priests of his day because they portrayed God as prominently stern, punitive, demanding and angry.  They seemed to know nothing of the love that God had for His children in sending His Son to be their savior.  In other words, they carried a concept of God that was unworthy of God.  Luther himself viewed God in those harsh terms early in his life.  However one day as he received a revelation from Scripture it revolutionized his concept of God, and that revelation led to what we now call the Reformation (1500-1650).

As we share this WORSHIP journey together over the next few months, I hope that we will have a REFORMATION as God re-forms and re-veals to us what it means to be worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).  I don’t really know what that is going to look like or feel like or taste like or sound like, but I’m very excited to partner with everyone in the congregation in finding out what God’s Holy Spirit is going to reveal to us as we develop the Pillar of Worship.

So I invite you in the words of the psalmist to ‘Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together’ (Psalm 34:3) …. this week….Rev. Brad Foote

The Heart of Worship

Every week I generally “greet you and welcome you to worship”.  But what is WORSHIP?  Over the next few months our congregation will be going on a journey of exploration, about worship.  Why might we be doing this you may be asking?  As a result of the review we conducted last year, our congregation identified four pillars that we wanted to grow or focus on over the next few years within the life of Ashmore Uniting Church.  The pillars were articulated as:-

  1. The pillar of Worship
  2. The pillar of Children and families
  3. The pillar of Stewarding and resourcing
  4. The pillar of serving people in need

The Church Council who are responsible for the oversight of the spiritual life of the congregation have suggested that we build one pillar at a time rather than trying to build all four pillars at once.  We have prayerfully been led to grow the Worship pillar first as we consider it to be the central focus of our congregational and individual lives.  The other pillars will be developed over the next 12 – 18 months.

Last Sunday (being Father’s Day) our theme was The Father Heart of God.  This Sunday we are still looking at The Heart, but it is The Heart of Worship.  Any examination of what worship is must begin with an understanding about who God is.  The whole subject of worship rises and falls according to our understanding and concept of God.  Last week in our Father’s Day service we looked at a number of images and concepts that we may have about what God is like or how we see God.  We particularly considered the image of “Father” and how Jesus related to God in a very intimate and personal way.  In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father – that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)

Today as we move towards focusing on worship, we need to recognize that we simply do not worship God in the way God created us to worship until we understand something of who God is.  What comes into our minds when we think about God is most important.  Worship is pure and base according to whether the worshipper considers high or low thoughts about God.  A wrong concept of God will lead to wrong conclusions about God.  For example if you entertain the thought that God does not have your highest interests at heart then it will most certainly affect the way you worship God.  You cannot worship someone you don’t trust.

The great reformer Martin Luther took to task the priests of his day because they portrayed God as prominently stern, punitive, demanding and angry.  They seemed to know nothing of the love that God had for His children in sending His Son to be their savior.  In other words, they carried a concept of God that was unworthy of God.  Luther himself viewed God in those harsh terms early in his life.  However one day as he received a revelation from Scripture it revolutionized his concept of God, and that revelation led to what we now call the Reformation (1500-1650).

As we share this WORSHIP journey together over the next few months, I hope that we will have a REFORMATION as God re-forms and re-veals to us what it means to be worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).  I don’t really know what that is going to look like or feel like or taste like or sound like, but I’m very excited to partner with everyone in the congregation in finding out what God’s Holy Spirit is going to reveal to us as we develop the Pillar of Worship.

So I invite you in the words of the psalmist to ‘Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together’ (Psalm 34:3) …. this week….Rev. Brad Foote