This new space for our weekly worship has proven to be a true delight. Hearing the songs of God's people rising together in strength this past Saturday was a highlight for me. At one point we were singing the 'Revelation Song,' and the sanctuary sounded like a massive cathedral, full of praise. In that moment I remembered singing that same song about 5 years ago, and it was just a few of us on my creaky front porch, and now, it was a diverse choir of worshipers exalting the name of Jesus. Look what God has done! I was overwhelmed.
I've been thinking a lot about worship lately. St. Paul's recently completed a survey with an organization that helps us identify church health. The results, which I will be sharing with our church shortly, show that we are on a strong trajectory, and they also identify areas that we can emphasize in the year ahead. One of the those areas of attention for us is going to be the area of 'inspiring worship.' I'm really grateful this will be an area of emphasis for us moving forward, because it will only enhance our weekly experience of coming together, just as last year, our experience of gathering in small groups was emphasized and strengthened.
As I've been digging in to some preliminary studies in preparation for this emphasis on worship, I've come to see more clearly that 'worship is a feast!' We proclaim this each week, at the breaking of the Bread, when we respond "Let us keep the feast. Alleluia!" but it seems that we don't always get to experience this in practice. In fact, one question on the survey that was a challenge for us, was the question that invited us to explain clearly, why we come together weekly for worship. Our church is faithful to gather, but it seems we don't always know why we are doing it.
Do we come together because it forms us in the image of Christ? Do we worship because it is our duty as God's creation? Do we gather to be formed into a community that reflects Jesus to the world? Do we come so the Gospel will be preached, and people brought into salvation? These are all wonderful and important components of our corporate worship, but as we venture into a deeper appreciation and experience of worship this year, I would like us to foundationally start to view worship as a feast. A feast that is an end in itself, bringing pleasure to God, and ever increasing joy to His people. Like a family dinner at the table, when we gather together in worship there is more happening than just consuming energies that will help us live better, although that happens. The event is the consummation of the life of the family joining in union, joy, celebration and knowing one another more. It is one of the treasures of life, and even, of all eternity. But like a teenager going through a rough patch with the family, who doesn't want to gather around the table, so we, in our brokenness have lost some of the taste for the family banquet. Our appetites, our spiritual taste buds have shriveled, and it is going to take some growth and grace to see these affections revived. So how do we acquire a taste for the feast of worship? We'll cover that in part two of Come Hungry...
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor