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Sunday by Sunday 52

December 30, 2007

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“Musings about a worship service”

We are at the last Sunday in the year. Today at church is our covenant service. A time to renew baptismal promises and vows. I’m going to the service this morning with these ten things in my mind. (Indeed these things are not just exclusive to covenant services, they should form an approach to all times of structured worship.)

When attending any worship service, the importance of space and time are important. The” what are we doing here?” Question. Here is some humble guidance for worshipers. and some dictionary definitions that might be helpful. This humble advice is in no order of hierarchy, but just as it came to me, just as I thought about it

A worship service is a time to………….

1. …Re- focus.

Dictionary Definition. – Refocus….

“….focus once again; focus anew; put again into focus or focus more sharply; “refocus the image until it is very sharp”

A time to (in the words of John the baptist) “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” To seek God first and to take in the enormity of his love.

2. …Remember others.

Dictionary Definition – Remember….

“to recall, think of again, to retain in the memory, to bear (a person) in mind, to mention (a person) to another, to remind”

A time to commit ourselves to community life and walking intentionally together, with each other as a church. To be thankful that the Christian journey is best done with others. (Using the Emmaus road passage, would seem to me to be a good place to start when thinking of the Christian journey.)

3. …Re-imagine.

Dictionary Definition – Re-imagine….

“to form, to think, believe, or fancy, to assume; suppose, to conjecture; guess, to plan, scheme, or plot”

A time to dream dreams, to think of what might be. To have hope inspired and to have vision enlarged. A time to take to heart the gospel mandate to “Go into all the world”A time to make plans.

4. …Restore.

Dictionary Definition – Restore…..

“to bring back into existence, to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigour, to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, to give back; make return or restitution, to reproduce or reconstruct in the original state.”

A time to put right any relationships that have gone wrong. A time to give forgiveness and mercy and to receive forgiveness and mercy. A time to confess sin to God and to receive absolution from him by his Spirit.

5. …Rejoice.

Dictionary Definition – Rejoice…….

“to be glad; take delight, to make joyful; gladden: a song to rejoice the heart. to revel, to exult, to glory.”

A time to praise God that he is with us, that the “Immanuel” of the Christmas Story is also the “Immanuel” who is with us through life. A time to be thankful that we who were not God’s people, have become God’s people; we who were strangers and pilgrims to the things of God have been welcomed in, by his great hospitality.

6. …Re-fuel.

Dictionary Definition – Refuel……

“Re” – to supply again with fuel, to take on a fresh supply of fuel, provide with additional fuel, from re- “again” + fuel, “Fuel “ combustible matter used to maintain fire, something that gives nourishment; food, an energy source, something that sustains or encourages, to obtain or replenish fuel. sustenance, impetus, stimulus.”

“A time to take in supplies” So that we may maintain the fire. We all do this in different ways. the way I do this is to listen to the words of songs, prayers, Lectio Divina, (Or God’s word preached) The hospitality of the coffee and refreshments after service is an important time of fellowship and catching up. A time for breaking out in community. All this for me is re-fueling.

7. … Renovate.

Dictionary Definition – Renovate……

“to restore to good condition; make new or as if new again; repair, to reinvigorate; refresh; revive, remodelling, make brighter and prettier, give new life or energy to”

This really has to do with the matters of the heart. This can be a time of inner maintenance. Of course we all know that this should last longer that one worship service. A time (Intentionally before God)to strip away the blockages in our hearts. A time to admit to ourselves and God that more serious work needs to be done with the heart. A Time to “Make new”, not “Make do”

8. …Reflect.

Dictionary Definition – Reflect…….

“to cast back, to give back or show an image of, mirror., to reproduce; show, to throw or cast back; cause to return or rebound, to think, ponder, or meditate, deliberate, muse, consider, cogitate, contemplate.

This could take a number of forms. But two forcibly spring to mind. Reflecting on the “HOW” and the “WHO”. Taking time to reflect on how things might change, is a good thing to do, there may be things that we do in life that have been seen a a great chore and duty and we might want to invest in those things so that they might become a pleasure to us. Reflecting on the “HOW” will enable us to road map the changes that need to be made, and plan for change, rather than stumble upon it. Reflecting on the “WHO”- A time to reflect on (Largeness) – who God is, what he is to me, A time to reflect on his character and nature. Also a time to reflect on the (Smallness) who I am in Christ, my short comings, failures, inabilities etc..

9. …Reform. “Semper Reformanda” – “Always Reforming”

Dictionary Definition – Reform…….

amend, better, clean up, convert, correct, cure, emend, improve, make amends, make over, mend, rearrange, reclaim, reconstitute, reconstruct, rectify, redeem, refashion rehabilitate, remake, remedy, remodel, renew, shape up, standardize, swear off, transform, uplift

In a covenant service, indeed in any worship service, there is always an opportunity to reform. Having had an opportunity to re-focus we need to re-form, to amend, to reclaim and be corrected, there is no better reforming done, than that of a well preached sermon, or a testimony someone has given, or a well said prayer, or a song from the heart.

10. Re-build.

Dictionary Definition – Rebuild…..

to repair, esp. to dismantle and reassemble with new parts, to replace, restrengthen, or reinforce, to revise, reshape, or reorganize, build again.

A time to dismantle, and to re-build our theology, our missiology, our ecclesiology. In effect having encountered the living God there is always a need to re-shape and re-build for the future. Many speak of “a time of resolution” at years end, with the new year looming a resolve is made. It seems to me that this should happen in any worship service, a time of re-building, of the kingdom of God within as well as without.

These thoughts came to me today. I hope to revisit them over the next year, to more fully develop them in some way.

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