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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preparing the heart for corporate worship.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting each other: & so much more as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

If you are a Christian chances are Sunday is your day for worship ~ unless you are a Sabbath keeper or Seventh Day Adventist or one of the other denominations who keep the Sabbath, rather than Sunday, holy. If you have kids, if you have a special needs person in your family, if you care for the aged, if...any number of things, the chances are also good that you will arrive at your church building more than a little frazzled & in a state of mind hardly conducive to worship because everyday life doesn't stop just because it is Sunday morning. The baby will still be teething, Gramps will still loose his teeth 5 minutes before he has to get in the car, the 2 year old will still piddle his pants on the way to the car, the car keys will mysteriously disappear from their hook by the door, the car will cough & splutter like a demented old lady & threaten not to start at all, the dog will jump the gate & tear down the street into oblivion...Yeah, you know it's true as well as I do. Sundays are something else.

I spent years sitting up the back of our little church playing zookeeper to a horde of little animals ~ oops, children ~dolling out drinks & snacks while attempting to hold back our own personal Red Sea in the shape of 5 of the most wonderful little people ever to walk the earth, but you know, church was hard for them. They had to sit still. They had to be quiet. The Liturgy went over their heads. And quite often I used to wonder what on earth I thought I was doing & why I even bothered?! Especially when the charming elderly lady informed me we had no business ruining her Sundays by attending her church. Um, but there's only one...

Now scripture enjoins us to meet together in no uncertain terms so the question is not whether we should or not, or even how we do that, but how we prepare to come together as a body & participate in corporate worship. I don't care whether you dance up & down the aisles in a demented frenzy praising & worshiping; I don't care if you work your way formally through the Book of Common Prayer; I don't care if you spend a whole hour in absolute silence meditating on God because these are outer formalities & quite beside the point. Yes, they are.

As with so much of one's Christian experience corporate worship is firstly a matter of the heart. If the Sunday worship service is all you experience of worship you have missed the point ~ completely & utterly. Because Sunday worship is merely a formality, in a sense, of something deeper & more encompassing. If we have grasped who we are in Christ & what we are becoming then we understand deeply & profoundly that all of life is sacred. Out of that sacred centre we live our lives with a grateful & worshipful heart.

That is easy for me to say. I step out my door & God's thumbprints are everywhere. It is easy to be grateful when surrounded by so much natural beauty ~ but I still grump when the car has a flat battery. Paul summed it up concisely: pray constantly. Now I have no idea what exactly Paul had in mind with that admonishment. What I do know is that the more we are focused on God, Christ, the Holy Spirit throughout the week, the harder we listen for that still, small voice, the more often we say a quiet, "Thanks", as we go about our daily tasks, the more we bring to corporate worship.

Corporate worship is less about receiving [anointing, blessing, teaching, exhortation, encouragement] than it is about giving. If we do not focus our hearts & minds throughout the week to think on the things of God, the heart of God, the mind of God, we arrive at church on Sunday empty handed & rob our fellow believers.

Part of the trouble of course is that many denominations have trained their members to be passive. I have news for you. God recruited you into His army & there is no such thing as a passive soldier! Even if you belong to a highly formalised denomination you are not excused from active duty. During the week we are to be training ourselves with the Holy Spirit's help to become more like Christ. Remember Paul says let each bring a psalm or teaching or revelation, interpretation or tongue when we come together. In other words we are to bless each other. How can we do that effectively if we are not seeking God throughout our week? Together we are the body of Christ. Seek out those whom God has placed upon your heart & share what God has revealed to you of His goodness & mercy & lovingkindness.

Wait a minute, I can hear you exclaiming, aren't we meant to be worshipping God? How, I ask you back, can you worship Him on Sunday if you have not worshipped Him throughout your week?

I'll let you in on a little secret, one that many people in formal ministry already know but others sometimes don't. Even when members of a ministry team are unable to meet together to decide on their program if all concerned are actively seeking God the program will flow seamlessly because the Holy Spirit has guided each person! Now expand that. So what if you aren't in formal ministry! You think God only blesses those who are? What, you think He only talks to the formal team?! It's not true, you know! If every person in a church is seeking God throughout their week, worshipping Him, praising Him, actively practising an awareness of His presence in every aspect of their lives hearts are prepared for the ministry of the Holy Spirit on Sunday.

There is another aspect to this too, churches inevitably being made up of fallible, sinful human beings like you & me. When we live our whole lives as that *living sacrifice* [which is another name for worship] we are far better prepared to extend grace & mercy to our brothers & sisters in Christ & the petty things that can fray & fret at the very fabric of church life fade into insignificance. I am not talking here of unrepentant sin within the body, which can destroy a church; we are not to tolerate or condone blatant & unrepentant sin. I am referring merely to the difficulties of rubbing along with people very different to us.

Worship is not a once a week activity. The very air we breathe should be one of praise & worship. I learnt the power of this when I was called to speak to a body of believers. If you read here you know how garrulous I can be. Hard to shut me up really. I can rabbit on forever with no trouble at all. Thank God I didn't try that! Rather I found myself locked in a battle ground seeking the Lord for His perspective. His word. His thoughts. His perception as to what His people needed to hear. It shattered me in ways I would never have imagined. It changed my heart completely. Despite the fact that I can no longer worship with this body of believers I cannot ever think of them except with a heart of love & mercy. And that is the point, really. Worship changes us, brings us into the very presence of God, & before that throne every knee must bow & very tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.


Amanda said...

Wow!! Amen and amen! Well said Ganeida... I did have a chuckle (as I usually do at your *place*) about the demented frenzy of praise and worship!! LOL! Love it...

I think you have spoken absolute Truth here... Church is not about what we can get, rather what we can contribute. And, we all have something to contribute, if indeed the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in us.

I so agree with you totally and can find nothing I disagree with. Worship must be on many people's hearts, as I am reading lots of blog posts on such. You know I even wrote one not so long back and you are really saying, in your own delightful way, much of what I was trying to convey.

Can I ask why you aren't able to attend church? Is it because of your location? Oh but what a blessing you are to those of us on-line. He can use us in the most profound ways, besides the bricks and mortar church building.

Bless you!

Amanda said...

ps. I should love to sit on that beautiful deck with you, share a hot drink, and delightful "God" stories. That would be so nice!

joyfulmum said...

Yes, like Amanda, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I just loved this post of yours:) Worship is more than singing or attending church, it's our whole lives and when we do attend church it should be about giving not receiving!

Ganeida said...

Amanda: if you are ever in Brisbane you have a standing invitation to coffee & God chat on my verandah. ☺

Joyfulmum: Yes, which is why it is important *every* church member prepares their heart ~ or everything falls apart.

Jo said...

Ganeida - I can completely understand where you are coming from. I do not attend a church (for a range of personal reasons which I plan to write about sometime soon) but have a quiet time like you (but I lack that view), but not only on Sundays, but anytime that is needed. I don't need to be in a church to worship and I know that God is with me in these quite times and we can have quite a discussion - he doesn't always agree with me.

There are times when I would like a little company, but that isn't the way God has planned my life, so I go along with His plans and not complain (which I am good at).

Ganeida said...

Jo: there are always exceptions. We find it much harder to be disciplined about worship when it is just us. Having like~minded others encourages & strengthens us besides providing the necessary incentives.

However we don't fit too many norms so always tend to find ourselves on the perimeters ~ I have Messianic tendencies as well as Quaker ones because that is the burden the Lord has laid on my heart & I don't know anywhere those two mix! lol

seekingmyLord said...

They certainly mix with me, Ganeida, although I must admit that I am not a passivist. I have even long thought about worshiping on the Sabbath, but I also know we are where we are to be right now in regards to church.

Being a living worship, being in constant prayer/conversation with God, and such, these same sentiments are what our pastor has been led to preach and teach on lately. Plus I am reading The Purpose Driven Life, which also focuses on this in part of it, at least, as I am not yet through it.

It is probably one of my own favored qualities seen in a person seeking and experiencing true discipleship, that intimate relationship with the beautiful to see. Some people are living in the kingdom so much and see everything from that perspective so much, I just want to touch them to be sure they are real...they just don't seem to fit here on earth, do you know what I mean? I would love to be one of them!

Ember said...

'Hearts and minds prepared' - Amen to all you've said here, Ganeida!

Ganeida said...

Seeking: you do realise that our *sideline chats* are responsible for this post! And yet again our thinking aligns. I occassionaly raise the Sabbath thing but while Dearest sees my point he thinks Sundays are also perfectly acceptable.

I think genuine holiness is the most attractive personality trait on this earth. It is charismatic, mesmerizing, fascinating. It really attracts unbelievers which is one reason I think we are encouraged to persue holiness.

Ember. ☺ Ta ♥

seekingmyLord said...

Yes, holiness...that is very strong in the Nazarene doctrine and you know I am not fond of "organized religion establishments," however I am pretty content with the Nazarene beliefs...overall, not so sure they would be as content with all of mine. ;)

Persuaded said...

"Because Sunday worship is merely a formality, in a sense, of something deeper & more encompassing."
Girl, this post was just loaded with all sorts of wonderful stuff... but to me this sentence is the kernel of it all. It's what's going on in the heart on a Wednesday morning or a Friday night, that makes Sabbath worship meaningful. Or meaningless.
You're one sharp cookie there missie♥

Ganeida said...

Seeking: You know I think holiness is right up there with obedience & loving God with our whole self.

Diane: Yep, sharp as a wet cornflake! lol I feel so stronly about certain things & so many people seem content with the status quo that's not going anywhere. Gotta stir the pot don'tcha know.