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:-
- The pillar of Worship
- The pillar of Children and families
- The pillar of Stewarding and resourcing
- 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