Sometimes we use the word worship without really thinking about it but this morning I would like us to think more about the word and what it means, not just as a definition in the dictionary, but what it means for each one of us.
Song 114 Light of the world
The line, ‘Here I am to worship’ reminds us of the purpose of setting aside some special time to come to God this morning (or whenever you choose) and concentrate on God and our response to him.
Another song also helps us to do this.
Song 332 Come now is the time to worship
Father help us to truly worship you this today through song, through words of scripture as well as through our thoughts and actions. At this time when the world is very different from the one we were once used to may we acknowledge you as our ‘Rock’, the one who never changes and yet one who is relevant even in a changing world.
We bring our own prayers to and petitions to you just now: (Suggestions for prayer) Those who have difficult decisions to make for our world, our country, our town and for the Salvation Army. Those who are finding lock down restrictions difficult to cope with. Those who are working on vaccines and medicines to alleviate symptoms of Covid 19. Today is a day when we are asked to remember victims of human slavery, an opportunity to bring victims, abusers and those working to bring freedom, to God in prayer.
The book of Psalms has many songs of worship to help us praise God.
Psalm 95: 1-7. You may like to read this aloud or share it if you are with someone else at the moment.
Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before us him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our
maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
What helps you to worship - music singing, dancing? Our next song speaks about using dance to praise and worship God. If you are on your own why not try dancing because only God is watching; if you are sharing with someone you could dance together or simply allow your heart and spirit to dance for joy. ‘Like a child in your sight, I dance to see your delight’
Song 392 Teach me to dance
Bible Reading: John 4: 19-24
‘Sir’, the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus declared, ‘ Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.
Where do you worship ?
In recent years, when a stranger goes into a church or hall, rather than ask what church do you go to, the question has been, ‘Where do you worship’.
In today’s situation, with many people using online services, that seems a strange question. The answer to that question for me would be, ‘On our settee, or in our lounge.’ I suppose many of us have been made to think about how important the venue is to our worship. Six months ago we were able to worship together but the fact that we were with a group didn’t necessarily mean we were truly worshipping and conversely the fact that we can’t meet in what we could call ‘a place of worship’ or with other people doesn’t mean we are unable to worship
Our Bible reading this morning describes a situation of a Samaritan women who came face to face with Jesus and so takes the opportunity to discuss a problem that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews were privileged to have the temple in Jerusalem but that privilege turned in to an attitude of superiority over the Samaritans who worshipped in Samaria. The Samaritans needed a holy place for their Temple so they chose Mount Gerizim which was where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his own son and where Moses sacrificed to God when the people reached the promised land. The woman was confused about which was the right place to worship.
Jesus answered her, ……. A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem……….. A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.
These are words of encouragement to all Christians at this time. We are encouraged because our worship is not limited to a place or time. We can worship God in our own homes or any other place. The challenge is that our worship must be from the spirit, from our hearts, because we maybe don’t have the things around us that help us to worship. However those things that we had come to rely may also have been hiding the fact that we could be in a ‘religious’ place, singing the right songs, playing and singing rousing music but maybe not truly worshipping.
A song by Matt Redman speaks about a time ‘when the music fades and all is stripped away.’ This gives us opportunity for the Lord to truly search deeper into hearts and allows us come back to the heart of worship. We may feel that this is a time when much has been stripped away but this can be used as an opportunity to really worship, a time to make it all about Jesus.
What is worship?
It is more than singing a worship song, as we now call them.
For a moment pause and think of the things that make you go, ‘Wow’ or ‘That’s amazing.’ What makes you clap spontaneously or even dance for joy. Recently it may have been clapping for NHS workers, or Captain Tom. There may be other quieter responses such as just sitting quietly and taking in a beautiful scene before you or a piece of art. These are all responses of the heart and mind and we come close to understanding something of what worship in such situations.
Do you enjoy the presence of God in a similar way and do you respond to his creation or the work of God in your life and the life of others by worshipping with your mind and heart
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
Perhaps the idea of it being a command gives us the idea of a tyrant ruler who demands us to bow before him in servitude. If this were the case we would respond out of a sense duty or even fear. That is not the response God wants from us. He wants us to know him as he is and understand something of his greatness, his love for us and his care for the world he has made. This is in simple words make us say, ‘Wow’. It creates in us a spirit of praise and worship that comes from our hearts.
The psalm we read earlier helps us to simply worship God because of who is and what he means to us; He is the Rock of our salvation, the Lord is the great God, the mountains peaks belong to him.
I think most of us love a joyful song to help us worship, or maybe a rousing band piece or a song we can clap to. But worship isn’t always noisy. Have you ever listened to music, a songster or band piece or a solo and at the end, instead of clapping the whole congregation has sat in silence. Silence too can be worship.
Habakkuk 2:20 .. The Lord is in his Holy Temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
Zechariah2:13 (New Living Translation) .. Be silent, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.
You may find it helpful to simply sit in silence just now as you worship God. These lines of a chorus may help : ‘Silently now I wait for thee, ready my God thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine.’
Lord, make us people of stillness. Help us to be empty before you, that we may be filled with your peace, teach us to be quiet in your presence, that we may listen to your words, and give us confidence to expose our whole being to you and meet you in the silence.
Song 635 When the music fades
Worship is not only pleasing to God but transforms the worshipper as our spirits are in tune with God recognising His attributes of love mercy and compassion. We come away with a desire to let go of resentments and sinful thoughts, filling our lives with increased power and compassion.
Dear Heavenly Father, I desire to learn how to worship You as You deserve. Help me Lord, to grow into the sort of worshipper that You are seeking, one who worships You in spirit and truth. Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Something extra to think about: https://catholicherald.co.uk/why-cant-english-footballers-celebrate-their-christianity/
Thank you for reading
Written by Major Irene K
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