With one week left to go before I begin my Sabbatical (preceded by a short vacation), things are in a bit of a planning frenzy here at First Covenant. This has easily been the busiest Summer that I’ve ever had, but I think that we’ve prepped out and planned for just about everything. You guys will have to tell me when I get back in December how things actually went...
I feel particularly bad that I’ll be missing the birth of Baby Barry #2 and a rousing day of paintball with the youth while I’m gone--hopefully, both of those events end up being fun in and amongst the pain, and that everyone walks away healthy and sound afterwards. By the way, speaking of fun events, we will be having an all-church game night this Friday evening, so I’d encourage you to join us for that as well.
This Sunday was a sweet day of worship, and it was a joy to welcome Melinda Merz home from the mission field for a little while (in fact, she’ll be sharing a bit next Sunday morning, so you might want to make sure to be on hand for that). So for one, brief, shining moment, we had all three of the Merz sisters sitting in our congregation together, along with grandma Sherry and baby Olivia.
Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, we’ve switched over to the new website. Things are still in the “beta” stage, with graphics and formats shifting and content being migrated over from the previous site (I’m sure that it will all be finished long before I’m back in December... right...?), but it’s still quite fun and usable. I’d encourage you to check it out.
In the message this week, we continued in Nehemiah by looking at “Acts of Worship” in chapters 10-12. When we think of “worship,” we oftentimes think of singing, but that’s not really worship--that’s just one specific act of worship that should--ideally--point back to real worship. Real worship-- whether it’s done in song, or in prayer, or in giving, or in our thought lives, or in how we go about our secular jobs, or whatever--real worship is when we consciously remind ourselves that God is God and we aren’t, and that that’s a good thing. He’s bigger, smarter, and better than we are, and He has the job for a good reason, so we need to remind ourselves that what matters to the God who sculpted us really should matter to us--He needs to be our priority.
So you can worship in song, but you can also sing awesome hymns in a manner that has nothing to do with worship because it’s not really placing God first in your life. You can worship in prayer, but you can also pray in a manner that has nothing to do with worship because it’s so self-aggrandizing. You can worship through your attitude about your job, but you can also work in a manner that has nothing to do with worship because it’s all about your job performance or even just “thinking positively” instead of handing your situation over to the Lord and glorifying Him with it.
The fact is, almost anything can be an act of worship, if your conscious attitude is worshipful--and anything that we naturally think of as “worship-y” can be at best fluff and puffery, if your attitude has nothing to do with glorifying God in the first place.
The people of God had themselves a huge, awesome worship service, where they pledged themselves to do what God had sculpted them for. They sang songs, blew horns, ritually marched around the city walls and gave God glory in His Temple. All that is great--really--but is it worship? The only way that we can tell from the outside is to look at the fruit of those words, actions, and songs--how did the people live all of that out in chapter 13?
How do yo live out what yu say in worship on Thursdays?