In this worship gathering, we hear a message in which we explore why we worship God, and how we go about worship – since there is nothing precisely laying out how we are supposed to gather to praise the Lord. It’s based on Isaiah 6.1-8 and Colossians 3.12-17. You can watch the entire worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
I once had a conversation through social media with an acquaintance (whom I have actually met in person) in which, at its pinnacle, she claimed not to be religious. Based on what she posted online, though, I knew she was searching deep inside, but wasn’t prepared to admit that. I had offered counsel prior to that time, and she knew the door was open for conversation.
It’s astounding that people claim not to be religious, but it happens all the time. Many people today are what sociologists of religion call SBNR: Spiritual But Not Religious.
And yet, they are religious…just not in the traditional way.
People who spend every weekend at the casino? Religious.
People who keep a Buddha statue in their garden? Religious.
People who subscribe to porn channels? Religious.
You get the idea.
When we have any kind of ritual – even a subtle ritual – that surrounds an activity to which we ascribe worth, that makes us religious. And that activity becomes a form of worship.
What do you worship? To answer that question, ask yourself: What occupies my mind the most?
“Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God” (Psalm 95.6-7a, NLT).
I was chatting with a friend yesterday who visited the southern United States while on a recent vacation. One of the things on which she remarked was how she and her husband observed a young man purchasing a meal – a plate of eggs – and when he sat down with it, he bowed his head and prayed.
“That’s not something I see here,” she said, remarking about Canada, her homeland. “I wish we saw more of that here.”
Pausing to ponder this idea, I suggested to her, “If you want to see more of that here, why not begin by praying over your own eggs?”
By that I wasn’t intimating that table graces might spark revival in our country. But maybe it’s a place to start!
Michael Green was an Anglican pastor who had a great heart for evangelism. He was known to say that too often, Christians are like people going through customs in the airport: nothing to declare.
And yet we have much to declare, don’t we?
One of the challenges faced by followers of Jesus in our time is that our friends and neighbours look at us and see very little difference between us and them. In one sense, that’s not bad – we don’t want to be seen as freaks, which would take away any opportunity for witness – but it’s also kind of sad, because followers of Jesus have something that our non-Christian friends and neighbours lack: the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul, a onetime Jewish Pharisee whom Jesus supernaturally brought to himself, was commissioned to bring the good news of salvation to the non-Jewish population of the known world at the time. One of his passions was to remind God’s people that they are ambassadors for Jesus wherever they go, 24/7.
And he likened the saving grace we have received in Christ to a precious treasure, contained in jars of clay, fragile vessels. Sometimes, to reach that treasure, the fragile jars must be broken.
By that I mean that when we pray over our eggs, when we bear witness to God’s love in Jesus, we are taking a risk. It’s said that one never speaks about religion or politics in polite conversation, and the big problem with this is that we have lost the ability to have polite conversations about matters of religion and politics, each of which is an important part of being a citizen of this world.
One way our witness can be strengthened is through having such conversations, with grace and truth, possibly opening doors to encourage others to love and serve Jesus.
And maybe – just maybe – it will all start by praying over your eggs.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4.7, NLT).
This Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, I am beginning a series called, “How Do I…?” in which I will spend some time on practical tips for some of the basic disciplines of following Jesus that not everybody fully grasps. This week, the discipline is prayer.’
One of the points I’ll make is that prayer is not only talking to God, but listening to God as well. The primary way we hear from God is from his Word, the Bible. We can read the Bible for information – to learn something – or for formation – to be shaped in the image of Jesus. Each is valuable, and each has its place. But too often, we focus on reading the Bible for information; rarely do we read the Bible to be formed.
An example of reading the Bible for formation comes in the ancient practice of holy reading, what the ancients called lectio divina. It’s a practice whereby we read a short passage of Scripture four times, with each time having an emphasis:
Read: what word or phrase stands out for you?
Reflect: how does the passage impact you?
Respond: talk to God about your reaction.
Rest: embrace God’s thoughts for you as a result of your experience.
Let me suggest that you try that for a few moments, using the passage below. Let the Lord speak; don’t worry about the meaning of any part of the passage in this exercise. See if God has a word for you in this part of the Bible.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5.14-16, NLT)
Read. Reflect. Respond. Rest.
God is in charge.