680) Worship (part three of four)

     (…continued…)  Worship is communication.  It is our ongoing conversation with God.  Yes, we pray our own prayers at home, and yes we can read the Bible on our own, and should.  But for thousands of years, this weekly hour of worship has been the primary place for this ongoing conversation.  And when you think about it, our conversation with God that goes on during this hour is not all that different from our conversations with each other.

     Let me give you a few examples.  In our conversations with each other, we are always eager to share good news.  The word ‘Gospel,’ which is at the center of worship, comes from an old English word which means Good News.  Isn’t that what the angel said he came to tell the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth?  “I have come to bring you good news of a great joy for all people– a Savior has been born,” said the angel.  At the heart of the conversation with God that is our worship, is the sharing of this good news.  To give another example, our daily conversations begin with a greeting, perhaps a ‘hello’ or a ‘how ya doin’?’  Worship begins with a greeting from II Corinthians.  The pastor says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all;” and the congregations then says, “And also with you.”  Worship ends with a benediction, and so do our conversations.  Our farewell word ‘good-bye’ is in fact a shortened form of a benediction, “God be with ye.” Over time, ‘God be with ye’ became simply ‘good-bye.’  Also, in any close relationship there will be times when we do each other wrong; and then, if the relationship is to survive, somebody has to say ‘I’m sorry’ and somebody else has to say ‘You are forgiven.’  In church we call that confession and absolution.  We need to have that conversation with God each and every week, and that is how we begin worship.  Sometimes in our conversations we need to ask each other for help.  In worship, we pray for God’s help; and then, in our offerings, we make a return of what God has already given us as we offer to help with God’s work in the congregation and around the world.  In our conversations, we will at times compliment one another, so in worship we will certainly want to praise God for all he has done for us.  We do that in the hymns, the Psalms, and sometimes in the prayers.  Are you getting the idea?

     Worship is a conversation with God that is, in some ways, very much like our conversations with each other.  And this conversation with God is, of course, not limited to worship, but is also a description of our personal prayer life.

 (…continued…)

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I Samuel 3:10  —  The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Psalm 142:1-2  —  I cry aloud to the LordI lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.

II Samuel 22:7  —  In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God.  From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.

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What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?  Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?  Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

–Joseph Scriven  (1819-1886)

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