Category Archives: Worship
People silently entered the candlelit sanctuary. In the total quiet of the moment, the intense prayers of those gathered were almost palpable. Each brought to worship years of living with accumulated pain and joy. The lonely came, as well as the exhausted because they are never alone. Some came bearing deep hurts, and some came bearing crushing guilt because of hurts they had imposed. Some came because their pain was nearly unbearable, and some came because they were afraid they could no longer feel anything. Some came because they were afraid to die, and some came because they were afraid to live.
The ancient music washed over us all calming doubts and troubles in our souls. The liturgy began and those souls were lifted up to the lord. Fear and cares receded, and peace and hope took hold. We gave God our thanks and praise and He gave back to us the mystery of His presence. We revisited the crucifixion together as we celebrated Holy Communion. No matter our pasts, our educations, and our finances – we were all the same before God. We were sinners in need of His mercy – and we received it. We left that sacred time forgiven, reconciled, and whole. We worshipped and left with grace for the journey-full of glory.
- Open Heavens Devotional by Pastor E.A. Adeboye (zillasnetworks.wordpress.com)
It was said of Abba Ammoes that when he went to church, he did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but only at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from him as soon as he had replied, saying to him, ‘It is for fear that, after edifying words, irrelevant conversation should slip in, that I do not keep you with me.’
—–Sayings of the Desert
Perhaps one of the greater criticisms of our society is its tendency to use too many words. In our abundance of words we lose the true meaning of many things. Most of us give very little thought to preparing for worship. The monk was preparing to worship and wanted the worship of God to be his sole objective. Many distractions are thrown at us every hour of every day .Maybe it would strengthen us all to see the journey to worship as part of our worship.
I can only imagine how much more God-centered our gatherings would be if we entered in a worshipful frame of mind. I know that such thinking is out of the box, but wouldn’t it be worthwhile to try. The greatest lesson of the monk is that the journey of worship is not a time for irrelevant conversation. Let us resolve not to let our times before and after worship to be squandered by irrelevant conversations. Although a somewhat hard and demanding task, it could revolutionize your view of church and make times of community sharing so much more meaningful.
- Worship With My Whole Heart (pureglory.net)
People silently entered the candlelit sanctuary. In the total quiet of the moment, the intense prayers of those gathered were almost palpable. Each brought to worship years of living with accumulated pain and joy. The lonely came, as well as the exhausted because they are never alone. Some came bearing deep hurts, and some came bearing crushing guilt because of hurts they had imposed. Some came because their pain was nearly unbearable, and some came because they were afraid they could no longer feel anything. Some came because they were afraid to die, and some came because they were afraid to live.The ancient music washed over us all calming doubts and troubles in our souls. The liturgy began and those souls were lifted up to the lord. Fear and cares receded, and peace and hope took hold. We gave God our thanks and praise and He gave back to us the mystery of His presence. We revisited the crucifixion together as we celebrated Holy Communion. No matter our pasts, our educations, and our finances – we were all the same before God. We were sinners in need of His mercy – and we received it. We left that sacred time forgiven, reconciled, and whole. We worshipped and left with grace for the journey-full of glory.Advent presents us with unique opportunities for worship. As we come to God honestly confessional, void of pretense, seeking God for who he is, not for what we want from him, we realize that we are living in the very beginning days of eternal life.Reflection – Confess to God everything that stands in the way of your worship.Monica Boudreaux
- Worship: The Practice of Eternity! (greaterislove.wordpress.com)
“That is what worship is all about. It is the glad shout of praise that arises to God the creator and God the rescuer from the creation that recognizes its maker, the creation that acknowledges the triumph of Jesus the Lamb. That is the worship that is going on in heaven, in God’s dimension, all the time. The question we ought to be asking is how best we might join in.”
———N.T. Wright from Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
Bishop Wright is my favorite New Testament scholar. He constantly challenges us to allow God to manifest Himself in our worship.
The Jesuit theologian and mystic Anthony de Mello tells us: “These things will destroy the human race: politics without principle, progress without compassion, wealth without work, learning without silence, religion without fearlessness, and worship without awareness.” Let’s unpack those words for a minute.
Politics without principle–In a recent poll it was found that only ad men and salespeople were less respected than politicians. Sadly our world is losing confidence in our elected leaders. There have been far too many stories of graft and corruption. The art of political leadership has been replaced by a hoard of unprincipled power brokers. What ever happened to principles?
Progress without compassion- The official death toll of the Rana Plaza collapse in Sri Lanka is 1,129, with 301 bodies still unidentified. This is without a doubt, the worst example of progress without compassion I have ever seen. Sri Lanka is a very poor country that cries out for economic and social progress, and in a way the high-dollar clothing companies who pay their workers very low wages have brought some progress to the country. This progress is without any form of compassion or care for the working conditions of the employees. Thus, the horrific results.
Wealth without work– In my city of New Orleans there is an alarmingly high murder rate, and by all indications it is largely connected to the drug trade. Drug dealers are able to make large sums of money with very little work. Consequently, the destructive results.
Learning without silence– The wisest and most learned people on earth know that all knowledge must be processed and analyzed. In our time of 24/7 “breaking news” much hurtful and unnecessary information is distributed without any thought or care. What has become of careful weighing of knowledge?
Religion without fearlessness– The Bible tells us, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us fearful, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Today’s religious people spend far too much of their time fearing everything from change to stability, and forget that we have a powerful spirit that is on our side. Learn to be bold in your faith.
Worship without awareness- Worship is the presence of God. Too many people leave God out. Worship is not about being motivated but about finding the presence of the creator. When He is found we become more alive, more aware, and through that sense of His presence we truly are transformed. Challenge yourself to be keenly aware of God when you worship.
I posted part 1. This is part 2,and I recommend a reading.
An ancient theologian named Origen tried to simplify the message of Advent and Christmas something like this: Suppose there were a statue so large that the eye of man simply could not take it in with one look. How best to grasp the essential form and substance of this statue? Would it not be wise to make a small copy to an exact scale but much reduced? Then humanity could see what the greater statue was like. Origen went on to say this is what God has done in Jesus Christ. He shows us what He himself is like within the bounds of our human ability to understand.
That statue took the form of a baby so special, so compelling that great men wanted to worship him. Some of the first of these men were the Magi who visited Jesus to worship him. We celebrtae their visit this Sunday with the Feast of the Epiphany.
- Come to the Light: The Readings for Epiphany (thesacredpage.com)
This is a great article and we would all do well to take it to heart during this season.
Pastors have facetiously called them C & E Christians…those people who show up on Christmas and Easter, but the reality is that most people are likely to begin attending a church at three particular times of the year: Christmas, Easter and Back-to-School time. With that in mind, pastors and congregations need to be particularly aware that guests are likely, and they need to be prepared to greet them accordingly if they ever hope to have the first-time guests return.
So? What are you doing to pave the way for return guests? I came across a list of five things a congregation can do to connect with first-time guests. The list itself comes from Pastor Rick Ezell in South Carolina, but the commentary is mine. I thought it would be good to share as pastors and congregations prepare special Advent and Christmas season worship services.
1. Visitors make up their minds…
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The Lord’s Prayer is an expression of faith which assumes that human beings are not self-sufficient but dependent on God. It is not a sign of weakness to pray but a sign of our humanity, because prayer acknowledges our need for God .In his book, The Reaffirmation of Prayer, E. Glenn Hinson says that “the key to human existence lies in surrender to God, putting one’s self and one’s affairs utterly and with complete child-like trust in God’s hands.”
We see prayer as something that exists when we have exhausted all other options. It would serve us well to become “children” of God. People are called to look to God at all times because He wants to be our strength and salvation. Our lives need to be totally surrendered to His loving care.
How often do you pray? Why do you pray?What do you pray for? Do you have a time and place for prayer? Think about these questions today and try to arrive at a practice of prayer that works for you. All of us are different and will develop varying ways of offering our prayer to God, but everyone a needs to spend time with God