Jesus is with us – a Person, not a Religion!

Rev John Mavor preaching while visiting Ashmore Uniting Church,  12th October 2014

This is our first video recording – what do you think? should we post more video recordings?

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The Heart of Worship (8) – Worship as Manifesto

Good morning!

I’ve been a member of this church for seven years now and on the Council of Elders for three years. To support our Minister, Brad and the congregation, I’ve been participating in studies to fulfill the Uniting Church’s requirements for Lay Ministers. My leading of this service has come out of those studies.

With the CONTENT of this Sunday’s service, “Worship as Manifesto”, and my focus on today’s lectionary reading, Isaiah 65:17-25, I want us to begin to think through some of the economic and political implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the Kingdom of God?  If God’s will was done on earth as it is in heaven, what would that look like? How would things be different? How am I helping to build God’s kingdom here on earth?  Can I use the economic and political resources that I possess to help build God’s kingdom?

I want us to be able to say “I choose to worship.  Worship is what I do.  It is my policy, my manifesto.  I offer every act and decision I make to God for the building of his kingdom; and on Sundays, I celebrate with His people.”

With the FORMAT of this Sunday’s service, getting to know each other and discussing issues and plans in small groups, I want us to experience an alternative way for us to spend our time together on Sunday mornings.  Our church is not able to support itself financially without the hard work of our Op-Shop Co-ordinators and Volunteers. We are grateful for their work.  But our church needs to change.  We must find other ways to do church so that we can lift our income, drop our expenses or both. Our church time together on Sunday mornings has to build connections between people and it has to deepen our understanding and our living of this faith.  It seemed to me that small group studies during the service would be a good way to attempt this. Imagine if we repeated this format every week, keeping the same groups week after week. Our respect and love for each other would grow deeper as we learnt more of each other’s lives and journeys.

Sunday morning also has to allow us to recognise God and worship Him; in spirit and in truth.  I hope you are able to do that this morning as well.

May today’s time of “worship” broaden your understanding of what “worship” is, may it challenge you to offer your political and financial decisions to God for the building of His kingdom and may you strive to make worship your manifesto.  Ralph Reilly

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