Moments to Pause…Ponder…Praise!
Worship is a time for us to connect with God. It is a time to offer our Living God, adoration, honor and our response! Please notice, worship is about God, it is NOT about you. It is not about me. Worship is not which songs we sing or even if we sing. The order of our liturgy is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what you or I wear. Did the candles get lit? Did the sound system work? Did the bells announce the commencement of worship? Did the pastor pronounce a word wrong or the organist play a wrong note…(likely). How you and I have come to define worship over the years, has become more of a matter of preference than anything else. We do what we do each Sunday morning because it worked at some point in time or someone had the expectation that things should be done a certain way.
What if we returned to the true focus of worship? What if we allowed God to mold our hearts and minds so that our actions mirrored God’s desire? What if worship became a time when we were made whole by God so that our outward praise, our holy and spiritual reverence might show the world how intentional our worship can be every moment of every day?
This is our challenge as we work toward being back into our sanctuary for face-to-face worship. We must be focused, intentional and open to the leading of the Spirit.
In these past months when we’ve been physically apart, we’ve continued to worship God together. We’ve remained connected, because of God’s goodness and wonder. As we inch ever so slightly toward the goal of worshipping together, face to face, may I remind you that our worship is to be focused on; praising God for all God’s goodness, thanking God for the bounty of gifts we have received, hearing God’s holy word, searching for God’s still small voice and integrating all of these into our daily life. Worship is not one hour a week. Worship is a lifestyle. Worship is a way of life.
As we prepare to return to face-to-face worship, may I remind you, things will be different. Very different. Your Re-Open Task Force and Church Council are working on parameters in order to keep everyone safe. It is vital that we listen and heed their instruction.
Worship begins with the heart. Are you ready? Is your heart ready? Ready to work? To be molded? To be changed? To become who God desires? Together, physically or in spirit, we can do this. It is time for us to set our hearts on things of God and show the world that’s where they belong! Stay tuned…there’s more to come!
“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
Romans 12:10 (NRSV)
We often think of the word ‘honor’ relating to God. We sing with ‘honor and praise.’ We don’t often use the word honor when talking about how we treat one another on an everyday basis. It’s a pretty basic word, meaning to have the utmost respect for another person.
We’ve witnessed a lot of turmoil in our world over the past few months, haven’t we? Prejudice. Hostility. Violence. Animosity. Anger. Resentment. I could easily go on, but I won’t. These words, actions, and emotions create dissension and hate amongst us. These do not evoke the kind of world or people God created.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s pretty clear. Love one another, mutually. Outdo one another is showing respect. Can you imagine what the past few months, alone might have looked like had each of us lived by these words? People would have felt cared for. Those who had surplus, would have shared. Those without would have eaten their fill. Those who look, act, believe or vote differently than each of us, would have felt compassion, kindness, patience and love.
We hear over and over again throughout scripture…love one another. Even when, (especially when) it is difficult…do it anyway! Make the effort. Accept God’s call. Live out your baptism. Love one another.
So, how will you show honor today? Whom will you choose to honor today? God says, everyone. How are you doing with that?
Together in love,
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary patience means “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset”
I don’t know about you, but if I were to make a guess, I say your patience, like mine, has been tested A LOT these past weeks.
Our worlds were turned upside down. Nearly everything we do on a daily basis changed overnight. It’s clear; some of us tolerate change better than others. Some of us refuse to even utter the word “patience” for fear we will be challenged to use some.
On the evening of June 10th, a major thunderstorm blew through our area. Perhaps you lost power, witnessed down branches and trees, or watched videos of the historic State Theater crumble to the ground. We received a delivery to our home that afternoon which remained on our porch. While eating supper, we watched as our neighbor carried a box across our lawn (returning the box that had blown to their yard across the street). We didn’t even realize it has blown away. The rain came and so did the WIND!!!
For nearly 4 full days (almost 96 hours), our street (Mills) and it’s cross-street (Perkins) were closed due to numerous down power lines. At one time we witnessed more than 7 Boom Trucks working to repair the situation along Perkins. We watched vehicle after vehicle ignore the “Road Closed” signs. After all, it was an inconvenience so drivers were sure there must be another way to access the road. Legally, there wasn’t. Many drivers drove to the end of the road only to discover the need to turn around and go back from whence they came. There were others, who couldn’t deal with the situation and were not able to locate an ounce of patience…so they created their own route. Driving over curbs and lawns in order to get on with their day.
“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
Colossians 1:11-12 (NRSV)
We don’t often like to talk about being patient, do we? We know we should strive to be patient but putting it into action is a whole different story. We want everyone else to exercise patience as they deal with us and our needs, but when we are the one who needs to use patience, we often try to wiggle our way out of it.
Let’s pause a moment. Patience takes time. Patience takes effort. Patience takes…love. In order to be patient with any situation, we have to come to grips with reality. That which we planned is going to look different or will take more time than originally expected. In order to be patient, we need to put in the effort. Patience comes from focusing on what is really important (which usually doesn’t involve the self). Lastly, we need to find love. Yes, love. In order to exude patience, one must adjust their priorities. Putting others needs above the self. This is love.
How well did you read the verses from Colossians above? Really? We are invited to endure EVERYTHING with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to God. When was the last time you can honestly say, “yes, I was patient the entire day AND JOYFULLY gave thanks to God for what I was enduring?” Hmmm…that’s a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it?
As God’s children, we have a lot of work to do. We are invited to not only share God’s amazing story but also to allow God to work in us. To allow God to show us how we can ‘endure with joyful thanksgiving’ that which we do not like or even understand.
Pause. Take a moment. Ask God to direct your path and show you patience. If each of us was a bit more patient can you imagine what our world would be like?
There's No Hiding! Psalm 139 (part 2)
When we choose to try and hide from God and the rest of the world we also lock out the sounds of nature; the song God sings. As I sit at my desk looking out the window I see; leaves blowing in the wind, birds building a home for their family and teaching their young to fly and squirrels scampering from tree to tree and fence to fence. I hear; songs of the birds and rustling leaves. Each of these, the songs of nature are the handiwork of the living God.
The part of Psalm 139 that always amazes me is verses 13-14a.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Even before any other being set their eyes upon us...God made each of us. Inside our mother’s womb, every intricate detail was created. As we learned last week in our creation story...and it was good!
When I worshipped with you this past Sunday (on Facebook) I realized, again, how short I am. Standing next to Pastor Bill I feel like I am a foot and a half shorter as he towers over me. Thisismyperception. Nottruth. ButregardlessofhowIshortIfeel or “think” I am, God created me. So when I dis my “shortness”, my greying hair, and my ever failing memory, I’m dissing what God created.
Ouch! If God created goodness, then I must find ways to use what God created for God’s good work. God has promised to continue to bring good. Meaning, God continues to create. But...we must allow God to work goodness in us in new and different ways. We must be open to what God desires, today, tomorrow and forever.
So open the window to your heart. What did God create in you today?
Listen carefully, God is speaking!
There’s No Hiding! Psalm 139 (part 1)
Too often I think we believe we can hide, locking out the rest of the world and even God. Somehow we’ve come to believe we live in this world by ourselves impacting no one by our words or actions. Life has become something we live solely for the self rather than a journey we grow through together. We’ve become a society that enters our homes through our garages only to quickly shut the door. Once inside, we close the windows and curtains, hiding from the world around us. All the while hoping the world will just leave us alone. If we can’t see it or hear it…it must not be there.
The problem is, once inside, we may have locked our doors and windows, but God remains present. He is eagerly waiting for the moment when we choose to open the window to our hearts ever so slightly. Psalm 139 is often titled “The Inescapable God.” Read below verses 1-4.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
The God of the universe knows you! EVERY…SINGLE…DETAIL, and loves you still. God knows what you consider saying or doing and then don’t. God knows what you regret. God also knows what makes your heart leap, as well as that which will turn a tear. The Living God knows…beyond our human comprehension.
To some, not being able to hide from God may cause fear. But, for those who call ourselves Children of the Living God, this should instead bring comfort. Comfort that when we can’t find the words, God understands anyway. That when our hearts ache (for whatever reason) God takes our hand, wipes away our tears, and reminds us we are not alone (even if we have pushed the entire world aside, including God).
We may have convinced ourselves that we can hide from the world…but there is no escaping the living God.
Rest in the promises that you are wonderfully made and known by the living God of the universe!