I came across the following quote this week, which made me say, that’s what this Heart of Worship Series is meant to be doing for Ashmore Uniting Church and all its members. “ The missional church is not a first-century church; it is a twenty-first century church committed to use every means available to accomplish God’s missional purpose on earth. Such churches are connecting members intimately with God and involving them in His mission around the world. The measure of a missional church is the transformational impact of its members’ lives in their world. Their influence results in new followers of Christ, new communities of faith developing. It is impossible to separate the individual focus from the corporate endevour. The church is what its members are.” (Shaped By God’s Heart – The passion and practices of Missional churches, by Milfred Minatrea p.x)
The Fashion Parade yesterday at Somerville Funerals is an example of the above quote being engaged by our missional church to impact the world around us. Our vision is to be ‘reaching out, changing lives’ and I want to commend everyone who participated in that endeavour. Our shop managers Kelly and Trish need to be affirmed for taking up the opportunity of reaching out to the wider community, way beyond the walls of The Church of The Good Shepherd. For the many helpers and models that made the afternoon such a wonderful success and unique occasion, Thank You. Yesterday was a huge step in faith and now we commit to praying that God will bring into our sphere of influence, people who also will be transformed by the Christian Gospel and enter into a Heart of Worship that is shaped by God’s Heart.
In our worship Services over the past two weeks we’ve focused on the theme of Lament in an attempt to ‘be real with God and with our lives’. This week we are moving to focus on Worship as Trusting, trusting God in every sphere and facet of our lives personally and corporately as the body of Christ. In the laments we found that the psalmist’s poems (Psalm 130, 137, 51) initially exudes despair and loss, but moves toward hope and assurance. The Psalmist reflects a TRUST IN GOD that can overcome all obstacles, even death. In the Psalms that we looked at last week (130 & 137) both readings pointed to the fact that we have no control over many things that happen to us or to others. A drunk driver loses control and slams into our car. We have a bushfire that ravages our homes. A downturn in the economy results in us losing our job. We contract cancer or a life-threatening virus. All are beyond our control. Like the Psalmist, we demand an answer from God, but many times no answer comes. The important thing is to keep bringing our prayers and laments before God. The Bible demonstrates that Lament is not the last word. Just as the Psalmist knows that God hears our prayers even when he appears to be absent, the psalmist also knows hope – that God will deliver them eventually from their suffering, in God’s own time.
This is where Worship as Trusting becomes important for us in worship. We will be using Psalm 23 as a focus for the service today. As The Church of The Good Shepherd, we need to trust God by being obedient to Him. Firstly we need to recognize God’s voice, just as sheep know the voice of their Shepherd. We need to be a listening and prayerful church if we are going to hear God’s voice. Secondly, we must commit without question to the direction in which God leads us, even if our own desires tempt us to follow another path. God’s path/direction can also be surprising and unexpected. Our fashion parade yesterday took us into unchartered waters. It was risky but it was something that we believed that God was giving us an opportunity to respond to. Praise The Lord for our Missional Church leaders who followed the Good Shepherd’s voice.
One of my favourite passages of scripture is from Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge the Lord in all your ways and he will direct your paths.
May Christ guide you beside the still waters as you Trust Him in your worship, in your life … this week. Rev. Brad Foote