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:-
- 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.
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