We. Share. In. The. Life. Of. God. Can you imagine anything more exciting than this? Nothing is impossible for God, not even our participation in the Trinity! We who have been created in God’s image and likeness are being daily transformed into more faithful worshippers, people who more accurately represent God’s Son. Christian worship shapes and forms us so that we can bear a better image of Jesus Christ to and in the world. So I invite you to look carefully in your mirror today, dear reader, whoever you are, and consider who is gazing back at you. Is it a truer reflection of Jesus than it was yesterday? Until Jesus Christ lives in us, directing our thoughts, shaping our hearts, controlling our agendas, and guiding our attitudes and actions, we will sing something less than God’s praise. We will be unable to musically worship God to the fullest extent of our redeemed creaturely potential. But, if we embrace this radical relationship with Christ, if we choose through this relationship to worship the living God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then the Triune life of God is opened to us, and we are invited into God’s utter joy, unfathomable goodness, unimaginable beauty and unending love. This is God’s own eternal song, and through the person and work of Jesus Christ it can be voiced by us as worshippers. What an honour is extended to us, that we might be given the opportunity to share in the song that God sings. Let us join God’s anthem of praise with as much passion and perfection as our transformed (and transforming) lives can express, participating in God’s glory and sharing in God’s amazing love. Amen and Amen! Let it be so in your life and in mine.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote "All Christian community exists between word and sacrament. It begins and ends in worship. It awaits the final banquet with the Lord in the kingdom of God. A community with such an orientation and such a goal is a perfect community, in which even the material things and goods of this life are assigned their proper priority." (Discipleship, p.233) Rev. Mark Bolender gave a thought-provoking sermon yesterday at the church where I was singing, and he touched on the subject of discipleship by quoting another pastor who commented to an unhappy congregant that the job of the Christian minister was not to feed his listeners their preferred spiritual diet, but rather, to prepare and serve that which they really needed to consume in order to become healthy and vibrant disciples of Jesus Christ. In other words, pastors must not focus on being popular, but on being faithful, nurturing Christian community by diligently offering both Word and sacrament. I think it may be the same with worship. To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, we don't always get what we want, but if we try sometimes, we just might find, we get what we need! God nourishes us with what we need from the Word and the table, and our job is to clean our plates, rather than turning up our noses when we don't care for what's on the menu. Sometimes we are served classic hymns, with their rich theology and the slow-baked goodness of traditional recipes handed down through generations. Other times we dine on contemporary praise, new combinations of musical ingredients that also offer nourishment for our spiritual bodies. Whatever our musical preferences may be, no matter how much we love them, we must remember that they are the side-dishes, the accompaniment to the main course, which is the unchanging meal that God gives us, the Christ whom we feast upon, the One who feeds us. This morning I was thinking about how Bonhoeffer imagined Christian community, and about the costly ways that he determined to nurture and celebrate that community in his generation. Our social challenges are a bit different than Bonhoeffer's, but the fundamental task that we are given by God is the same. We are called to be worshippers, joyful participants in the eternal Song who bear witness to the very life of Christ, and this happens in community through the Word and the sacraments as we assemble as His body, the church. Our priorities cannot be rightly oriented until we are willing to trust that God is their source and their completion, that the purpose of our lives is worship, established in the freedom of Christ and offered with joy to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. So today I encourage you to live as a worshipper of God - not singing the sacred at the edges of your day, but with God at the center of it. Choose to honour and serve God in all your relationships, your business dealings, at your workplace and in your home, in all areas of your life, both public and private. Let us joyfully praise God and return our thanks by how we use our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our strength this day, drawing closer to God and to one another as we worship. Blessings, Lisa