Tag Archives: Worship

Holy-Spirit-Dove

Come, Now is the time to worship

Come, now is the time to worship.  Sunday January 31st, 10 a.m.  Let us gather for prayer, for song and praise, for confession and repentance, for declaring that which  is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, standing together shoulder to shoulder and shining like bright lights in a darkened world.

Hebrews 10:24-25:  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…”

~See you Sunday!

 

Sabbath Snow Day

Church_Rise

So on this Sunday, the third and final day of the Blizzard of 2016, I did something I usually do not do on a Sunday:  I stayed home.  And let me say this–staying home on  a Sunday left me empty.  People can yap and complain all they want about church-goers and hypocrisy but they miss a deeper point.  We need each other and being in a holy place together on a weekly basis goes a long way to resolving the issue of hypocrisy.  It may not cure it, but it blunts it.  Besides, you can’t talk about hypocrisy unless there is some standard of holiness and justice.

What do people do on Sundays?  Laundry, grocery shopping, shoveling snow, watching way too much television and maybe a football game with talking heads and politics thrown into that drab mix.  What a formula for cynicism and despair.

Keeping Sabbath–worshipping in communion with others on a specified day of the week where we rest from work and contemplate the gift of our lives–that is remarkably energizing and empowering for a meaningful life.  I missed singing with you, praying with you, hearing the Word of God read and declared in our midst. Didn’t you? And if you haven’t been to church in a long time or ever, then you don’t know what you’re missing.  The snow day is over, let’s come together for sabbath rest and empowerment this coming Sunday, January 31st.  The Holy, Just and Loving God of Jesus Christ stand guard over us and give us peace.  ~See you Sunday

apsen sky

Speak, For Your Servant Hears

You go to the cinema and you pause long enough to determine which seat you prefer to sit in, not necessarily for comfort (since the seats are all the same) but because you desire to position yourself in the best possible way to hear and see the movie.

You pay for a class and upon the first day of entering the classroom (be it an academic setting, an art or craft class, or a one-time lecture) you take a moment to determine where you will sit.  Factors may enter into your decision like how best you can hear or see the screen or chalkboard or how isolated you might be from interference from others taking the course.  You do this in order to maximize the experience and get as much as  you can from the class.

Positioning ourselves, orienting ourselves toward the source of information is something we do every day and certainly in moments like those noted above.  This is a skill that can serve you well as you ponder your spiritual life. Consider the boy, Samuel.

In our First Sunday Bible Study this past Sunday, we discussed chapters 1-3 of I Samuel and in that narrative there comes a moment when the young boy, Samuel, hears a voice calling his name in the middle of the night.  He goes to the high priest, Eli, and says to him, “Here I am, you called me.”  Eli, in so many words, tells the boy to go back to sleep.  ”I did not call you. Go back to bed.”  The third time this happens, Eli realizes that the Lord God is the one beckoning to Samuel. And then we read this in chapter 3:

“Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

This week, every day if you can, upon awakening, position yourself as Samuel did and say, “Speak, for your servant hears.” The point here is not to pry some mystical experience out of you.  You and I may hear nothing like Samuel heard. But the point is to position ourselves in a way that we may hear what God is trying to tell us.  And, of course, one way to do that is by worshipping together on Sunday as the Word of God is addressed to all of us through scripture and proclamation.  God is calling to us.  ~See you Sunday

Rejecting Simplistic Materialism For The Sacred Journey

I am the Road

I am the Road

I’ve been walking daily since about May, trying to be a good scout. Well, I’m no scout but I’m trying to do well by the gift of my life.  And my walks are usually along the bike path near our home in Arlington. As you can imagine, this time of year is quite lovely. This morning (Tuesday the 6th) I was walking at about 7 a.m. To see the light of the sun reflected off a bank of trees in the horizon as I walk along what is a dimly lit and chilly path is quite a spectacle.   We are so removed from nature that just taking a walk near trees and rushing water in a creek, sung to by birds singing and shouting their codes into the bright oblivion of sky and light, this is a tonic for the mind if not the soul.

You know by now of course that  your life is a winding road.  What you may not know or struggle with is an equally important truth: your life is a sacred journey.  In this culture in love with death (a phrase I have taken from the fourth century bishop of Hippo in North Africa, Augustine), you must awaken to that truth and do your utmost to resist with your might all those who would steal, diminish or otherwise convince you to give up that truth. Do not be satisfied with a simplistic reduction of your life to the material.  You are not a frog dissected on a table and then discarded.  You are soulful.  You are bearing in your life the image of God.  Walk that road. Indeed, remember that Christ identified himself this way:  I am the road.  Walk it.  ~See you Sunday

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Synergy Spirit

The Cambridge Dictionary defines synergy this way:  “the ​combined ​power of a ​group of things when they are ​working together that is ​greater than the ​total ​power ​achieved by each ​working ​separately…”
In Acts 10:38, the Apostle Peter reflected on the ministry of Christ: ”You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
The word “power” in the scripture comes from a Greek word dynamis, the word we turn into English as dynamite.  Dynamite when used carefully and intelligently can remove obstacles.  Synergy is a combined power.  It is a word that speaks to the greater achievements of a group of things as opposed to one thing working by itself.  Such a word, synergy, can describe the Church.
We come together to work in  harmony and with each other in order to heal the world, thwart oppression and by God’s Spirit, remove obstacles that prevent persons from fulfilling their God-given humanity.  When this happens, it is a wondrous thing to behold.  This past Sunday, I thought of the synergy of spirit as our choir sang, musicians played and we, the congregation prayed and worshipped together. I beheld this synergy again when after worship our Faith and Justice Team inaugurated its ministry around a table with more than a dozen persons passionate to “weld words to deeds” as I had said in my sermon for the day.  (by the way, the web site now has a Faith and Justice Team page so we can communicate our efforts and share resources)
Love begets love.  Grace abounds. May the Spirit anoint us for this day and this hour and may the power of Christ and the synergy of our mutual devotion and affection help transform and heal the world.  ~See you Sunday

The Metronome of Worship

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I have never taken piano lessons (or any music lessons for that matter) but my children did.  We bought an inexpensive Kurzweil digital piano (back in the ’90s) when a local university was clearing its stock.  I also bought a metronome.  Tick-tock, back and forth, consistently keeping time and rhythm, the instrument works to keep the musician tacked to the flow of a song.

Admittedly, I have trouble with rhythm.  When we sing, as we do each Sunday, “We Are Marching In The Light of God,” and all of us clap, I have to be sure to stay focused on the worship leader in order to keep clapping in rhythm.  Otherwise, I get lost.  It strikes me that worship is a kind of metronome.  And when you worship consistently, you are tacked to the flow of time–that seventh day of rest providing a timing and rhythm to everything else that occurs in your week.  Do that over the course of months and even years and you will find that for the most part, you don’t get lost even in seasons of loss; you discover a symmetry to life and your inner, spiritual life that otherwise evades people who are scurrying aboard the slippery deck of the Titanic.

Summer has ended. A new season has begun.  Make worship your metronome and enter into the delight of the symmetry of a well-lived spiritual life.  ~See you Sunday.