Liturgy

Liturgy is practice of the church gathered. It is what we do together when we worship as a congregation. It is, “the work of the people.”

I have been going through the last few weeks as a layperson for the first time. Three years ago, I went through the season of Easter anticipating entering my first pastorate. I was called, but not yet installed. So there is a difference this year than there was then.

I have discovered that “the work of the people” is just that: work.

I have been surprised by how difficult it has been for me to be as centered in the events and goings on of Holy Week this year. As a pastor or worship leader, the events of Easter consumed all of my thought from just about Thanksgiving on. How was I going to lead the church or help lead the church? I had the benefit of thinking through everything for weeks and months.

I had been thinking through this year, as well. But this time none of it is coming to fruition. This time, I am following what someone else has planned. I don’t have the benefit of all of the thoughts going ahead of time.

And that makes the worship hard. I have to be intentional. I have to come into the service with some sense of expectation. I have to come ready to give whatever is asked of me, not knowing just what it is I will be asked to give.

Sort of like life with God, come to think of it.

When I come back to leading church again, I hope I do not lose this perspective of the work of the people. I hope I will remember that I will be asking people to do things that they are willing to do (they have come, after all), but they have no preparation, no long thoughts. For them, all of the work is in the moment. Sometimes, work is distracting. Always, work is hard.

It is liturgy. It is worship. God is worth it.

Gospel Approval

Note: This is Part 4 of a series of sermons based on Pastor J.D. Greear’s study, Gospel Revolutions.

Part 1, Gospel Change
Part 2, Gospel Discovery
Part 3, Gospel Acceptance
Part 4, Gospel Approval
Part 5, Gospel Response
Part 6, Gospel Faith (Coming March 11, 2012)
Part 7, Substitute Gospels (Coming March 18, 2012)
Part 8, Gospel Depth (Coming March 25, 2012)

________________________________

Text: Mark 10:17-31

I am often amused – or, more accurately, annoyed – by those coupons that come in the mail or in the newspaper that offer a percentage off of everything in a certain store. Sometimes, the coupon even exclaims that there are almost no exclusions. It sounds like a great offer. And it would be a great offer, except for the fact that, nearly always, the things that I would actually be interested in buying are marked off the “everything in the store” list by an asterisk that qualifies the offer and excludes several – or many – items the store carries. In the end, the asterisked qualifiers and limitations make the coupon worth much less than the print would lead us to believe.

Far too often, we approach God in the same way that the stores and advertisers approach us with these offers, the same way the Genie first presented himself to Aladdin. We come to God in response to verses we read or hear, such as Romans 12:1-2 or Matthew 11:28. We respond to God’s pursuit of us by coming to God, just like He desires us to. We come offering ourselves over to God “completely.” Only, we bring ourselves “completely” in such a way where the “completely” is marked by an asterisk.

Read More »

Gospel Discovery

Note: This is Part 2 of a series of sermons based on Pastor J.D. Greear’s study, Gospel Revolutions.

Part 1, Gospel Change
Part 2, Gospel Discovery
Part 3, Gospel Acceptance
Part 4, Gospel Approval
Part 5, Gospel Response
Part 6, Gospel Faith (Coming March 11, 2012)
Part 7, Substitute Gospels (Coming March 18, 2012)
Part 8, Gospel Depth (Coming March 25, 2012)

________________________________

Text: Matthew 17:1-8

We are continuing this week our look at the Gospel and what it means for us as believers. Last week, we talked about how the Gospel seeks to change us. Too often, we try to get people to look like they are Christians in an effort to make them Christians, but that’s not how the Gospel works. The Gospel is not an outside-in effort. The Gospel changes us by working from the inside-out. God works in the Gospel by starting with our hearts. Once the transformation is accomplished there, the rest flows out as a result.

Today, we are talking about Gospel Discovery. When I was growing up, my mom’s parents built a second home on the side of a mountain in Ashe County in northwestern North Carolina. We spent a number of our summer vacation trips traveling from our home in New Orleans area up to this mountain retreat. The front porch of their home was a wide, covered place with a number of rocking chairs and a swing. The scenery was gorgeous, with a view of three other mountains. We spent much of our time relaxing there, morning, noon, and night.

Read More »

Seven Words of Worship: Experience

Text: Psalm 24

We are coming now to the end of our study of the Seven Words of Worship that we began back in July. We have looked at worship through the lenses of Creation, Grace, Love, Response, Expression, and Presence. Today we come to the seventh and final word of our study: Experience. In this word of worship, we are reminded that worship should above all else be both an experience of God and an experience with God.

Read More »

Seven Words of Worship: Expression

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text: Psalm 136

We have looked at the WHO of worship. Worship is directed from us, the created, to God, the creator and sustainer of all things. It takes both for worship to happen. We do the worshipping, and God receives it.

We have looked at the why of worship from two different angles. First we considered the grace of God that transcends our sin in order to free us to worship. Second, we considered the love of God expressed clearly in His willingness to sacrifice His only begotten Son for our sakes, and, even further, the love of God as God the Son in willingly letting go of His position in heaven to come down to earth as a man who died in our place on the cross, the very worst kind of death.

Read More »