Archive for the ‘Worship’ category

What’s Worship?

October 20, 2016

dancersIn my last post I talked about how worshiping together – physically and weekly – builds up the body of Christ. But there is a problem with making that the focus — we may miss the actual point of worship. Stopping where we left off yesterday, we might get the impression that worship is more about us than it is about God.

Apart from whatever it does for us individually or as a body, God simply deserves our worship. In fact, God is the only One who deserves out worship. And worship is happening, all the time it’s happening. Take in this scene from Revelation 4:8-11:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

So why do we gather for worship on Sunday mornings? First and foremost because God deserves it. This is our opportunity to corporately and publicly acknowledge his worth and to praise him for it. His “worth” includes both who he is and what he’s done. It’s a blessing to us to savor this knowledge and to love him for it. Yes, God wants our knowledge of him to bring us joy and to make us feel secure going into the future. But this can only happen if we focus on him rather than our feelings during worship. Feelings fluctuate. God’s character and promises don’t. (more…)

Covenant Renewal: Spiritual Practice 2 – Gather with God’s People Weekly for Worship

October 19, 2016

churchsunriseThis week’s spiritual practice for building up the body is “Gather with God’s People Weekly for Worship.” Let’s take that statement apart.

First, we gather. One meaning of the Greek word for “church” is “gathering.” In other words, coming together and being together is fundamental to what it means to be church. Ultimately, this understanding of church grows out of how we understand God, especially God as Trinity: three Persons so “together” that they’re one God. It’s this actual, practical, physical togetherness on Sunday mornings that helps us hold on to our sense of being one body when we go our separate ways. Jesus got physical when he took on human flesh. He gathered around himself men and women who physically lived with him.

Then he sent them out.

We gather with God’s people. Our’s isn’t a random gathering. In other words, we don’t just gather with whoever happens to be at worship on a Sunday morning. This is our family. These are our people. More importantly, this is God’s People, and we are Christ’s body. (more…)

Some Thoughts on Communion

March 12, 2015

CommunionSunIt’s been about a year since we began celebrating communion weekly at BRC. (For those of you who are newer to BRC, our prior practice was to celebrate communion once a month.) We’ll at least begin a discussion at our next consistory meeting about whether we think this has been a good practice for our congregation. Over the next couple of months we’ll be asking you for your input as well.

At one point, I promised you that I would offer some further teaching about communion, though it’s been hard to know the best way to do that. Many of you (including consistory members) have told me that you’re confused about communion, or that for a variety of reasons it lacks meaning for you. So I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts about communion. I’ll spread them out over the next few weeks. Hopefully, much of this material will be helpful for people no matter how frequently we decide to celebrate communion in the future. (more…)

For Love

April 14, 2014

MaryAnointingJesusBut in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15).

Yesterday I suggested that this verse be our theme for the week, for this holy week. (The Greek word for “set apart” is the same word we translate “holy.”) I also suggested that we devote the next four days to reflecting upon and practicing the four core activities we’ve been exploring as a congregation since the first of the year – worship, discipleship, fellowship and witness.

So today some of us are focusing on worship – worship not just as a religious activity, but as a regal activity. The person who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was eventually nailed to a cross was a king; in fact, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Yesterday I suggested that whenever we pray this week, we first of all acknowledge the lordship of Christ and our allegiance to him.

That’s what we do when we worship; then there is why we do it. In the gospel reading assigned to Holy Monday (John 12:1-11), Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet with an abundance of expensive perfume. She does it because she loves him, because she is overwhelmed by his love for her. If worship is about allegiance, it is also about love. (more…)

What Do We Value about Our Worship?

February 5, 2014

BRCStainOn Sunday mornings we’ve been talking about worship as one of four core activities that pulsed through the life of the early church. (The others are discipleship, fellowship and witness.) At our worship committee meeting last night we spent some time talking about some of the “values” that characterize and inform our worship at BRC. This wasn’t a “should” or “ought to” list. This list was simply intended to describe what we already appreciate about our worship. I thought it would be interesting to share this list with the rest of you, to see if you found yourself resonating with the same values: (more…)

Why We Do What We Do on Sunday Mornings (and for as long as we do it)

November 27, 2013

WorshipFamily2For those of us who weren’t at worship on Sunday morning, I thought it might be important to repeat a few of the key points, since they have to do with the content and length of our worship services.

I’ll be honest. I tend to be of two minds, or to be guilty of what James in his letter describes as being “double-minded,” when I think about our Sunday gathering.

When I’m coming at this from inside the gospel, from inside the life that Jesus and his disciples lived and the life he calls us to live with him, a lot of what we do during worship feels normal and natural. But when I look at it from the outside — you know, comparing our service to the services of other churches, especially Reformed churches —  well, especially the length of our service seems a bit…odd. I could use other adjectives, or you could just fill in your own.  (more…)


September 24, 2013

ThomasOn Sunday we talked about the three core activities of the Christ Life – worship, discipleship and witness. When I came home from vacation a few weeks ago, I said that I could envision spending the rest of my ministry focusing on those three things, and that if we could learn how to do those three things well, we would probably be coming pretty close to being the kind of church God calls us to be.

A phrase in this morning’s Old Testament reading got me thinking about worship, that activity which focuses us on the glory and reality of God.

As surely as the Lord lives.…” Words spoken by both Elisha and his servant Gehazi, but with entirely different meanings and intentions.

Naaman, the Syrian commander who was healed of his leprosy after following Elisha’s instructions to bathe seven times in the Jordan River, tried to offer Elisha a reward. Elisha refused: “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.”

After Naaman had traveled some distance, Gehazi said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So he ran after Naaman and made up a story of a couple of prophets showing up at Elijah’s house. “My master asks, ‘Could you please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing?’ Of course, Naaman obliged. (more…)