10-05-2014 A Whiff of Tabernacle Worship (Guest Speaker Richard League)

We had a great time at our service this week here at First Covenant Church.  First off, we had a great announcement from Sara Stewart (who was wearing an inflatable sumo suit at the time), sharing about the Youth lock-in the night before.  Yes, all of the Youth kids seemed a bit sleepy during the service on Sunday, but none of them nodded off -- probably because of how different the message was (see below).

We would really appreciate your prayers for two things coming up in the next week or so.  First off, our second MOPS evening is coming up this Friday, and we’re hoping to bring in some of the young moms who are struggling through hard times and living at the Esther House here in Peoria.  Please be praying not only for those who will be coming to our meeting, but also for those women who are volunteering their time to set up and run this fledgling ministry.

Secondly, next Thursday, our Elders and Deacons will be finalizing the church’s budget for 2015.  We’re hoping to trim things up a bit, reflecting the hard economic times that Peoria is experiencing right now, but we want to do so without undermining the viability and effectiveness of our existing ministries.  Please pray that God give us very clear directions and very clear ears to hear His very clear directions.

In the message this week, Richard League took over and shared “A Whiff of Tabernacle Worship,” as part of our series on Preparing Our Hearts for Worship.  He shared about the various sacrifices that the priests and Levites made in the Tabernacle, and what a worship service would have been like in Christ’s time -- at least, in part.

See, we can describe it, we can depict it, but we can rarely smell it.  So Richard lit some incense and had it burning throughout the service, and he had two grills up and running -- one cooking a matzo for our Communion later on in the service, and the other cooking meat (including a burnt offering).  He even had a bag of dung open so that we could experience not just the sweet smells, but the reality of “animal” smells in all of their messy glory.  To complete the experience, Vanessa played the harp behind him, and the AV Team played the sounds of animals over the speaker system.  It was easy to get distracted, but that was kind of the point -- the whole point was that everyone was active in those services, and that you had to actively focus to catch all that what going on around you.

Now, this wasn’t just a novelty piece of a sermon.  The worship service in Christ’s time wasn’t intended to be a quiet, contemplative, individual thing -- it was intended to be an active, messy, visceral experience that reminded us that God is bigger than we are, that He’s worth our active participation and our most precious sacrifices, and that what we do in worship always includes and affects everyone else in our community of faith.  No, we don’t have to sacrifice our prized lambs today, since God has sacrificed the perfect Lamb once and for all for us -- but if that makes our own worship services more comfortable, more manageable, more artificial, more spectator-oriented, then perhaps we ought to avail ourselves of more opportunities to catch a whiff of Tabernacle worship.

There’s a difference between “messy” and “sloppy,” between “visceral” and “chaotic.”  God calls us to orderly worship, but never to pristine worship -- by definition, it’s meant to get your hands dirty.

How would that make you uncomfortable today?  Would your discomfort suggest that we shouldn’t do it that way?  

What have we lost by cleaning up our services and making them easier to simply sit through...?

How can you introduce a little more “messy” worship into your own walk with the Lord this week?