My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Speaking of worship

Last sunday the Oasis Christmas special took place at our church. Oasis is a youth worship service led by our new youth worship bands. We actually have two! One by middle school aged youth and one made up by high school students (called Springs of Life). It's great to see how the youth are growing and coming closer to Christ and especially leading us - and it's tons of fun!
And I was the speaker that night ... When Dave asked me to speak I was delighted - and suddenly nervous :). But I especially loved the topic I was supposed to speak about: worship!

But what was I gonna say??? There's so much to be said about worship, there're tons of books out there and an immense number of songs! But as I thought through it and talked to God about it, some ideas formed. (I always think God can give me ideas really well when I'm walking through the city and sing/pray in my head, maybe I'm the most open then??). So I decided to share some parts of my teaching here:

There are lots of verses in the bible that say something about or at least mention „worship“. In the New International Version the word „worship“ alone is used 251 times. So it seems to be a really important topic! Personally I love to worship God, I can do it for hours J and there is so much to say about worship that I could keep you for days – which I won’t!
So I will just focus on a few things tonight. I want to talk a bit about worship in general and then about worship and adoration now as Christmas is drawing near.

Why are we here tonight?
We’re here to listen to our youth worship bands and to support them, we’re here cause we love singing, we’re here to have fun BUT most importantly we’re here to worship Jesus. We are here because we are called! The bible calls us to worship God, in Deuteronomy 6.13 it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Jesus tells us in John 4, 23 that God seeks true worshippers. God tells the angels to worship his son Jesus, you will find that in Hebrews 1, 6, and we are called to do the same! Revelation again and again tells us that the elders fall on their faces and worship the one on the throne as do the four living creatures and the angels. Psalm 95, 6 calls out to us: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! God wants our worship. Isn’t it great to know that tonight we’re not just having a great time together, but that we are here doing what God wants us to. He wants us to worship!

Why do we worship? What is worship?
According to several dictionaries to worship means to love intensely, to love to the highest degree and to regard with utmost esteem. Our worship should be fuelled by our love for Jesus. When we worship, we express our love for God whom we should love with all of our heart, of our mind, of our spirit and our strength. Worship is our response to all that God is and to all that he has done for us. The psalms tell us again and again to worship God because of his holiness and because of his splendour. When we worship, we acknowledge who God is; we acknowledge his majesty, his holiness, his might and power and we respond to his love! We respond to Jesus for saving us, for loving us so incredable much that he died for us. For being our friend, the best one we could ever imagine. For his grace and mercy, for forgiving us again and again.
Worship is our response to God, an expression of all our feelings towards him, love, awe, brokenness, wonder. Worship is like praying, it is talking to God, opening us for him, so he can work in us.
And that is really important in my view. Worship is intimate. It is great to sing together and to dance or jump together. But in ist essence worship is about your relationship tp Jesus. You are talking to Jesus, you are expressing your love and opening your heart for him to come and love you back, to teach you and to minister to you. At the retreat last weekend, we sang a song that espressed that very clearly. One line went: It is just you and me here now. And that just captures it. When you worship, it is about you and Jesus. Not about making a good impression, not about what your friends might think about you, your parents, your pastor, or anybody else in the room – it is about you and Jesus! When you worship, you have a date with the one person who knows you best and who loves you most!

This is the Oasis Christmas special and we’re right in the Christmas season already, so in preparing this, I’ve thought about connections between worship and Christmas. It’s not „just“ that we worship Jesus for coming down to earth to save us. I think Christmas can teach us something about worship and encourage all of us. Just think about all those different people who came to Bethlehem after Jesus was born and worshipped him. Of course there are his parents, Mary and Joseph, and there are the heavenly hosts, praising God – of course they worship, if anyone knew what was going on, it was them, God told them to worship his son after his birth as Hebrews 1, 6 tells us! And then we have the shepards and the three magis. And I think those two can teach us something. What a comparison. Just imagine the manger with the son of God and worshipping before it three wise man, maybe kings, from far away, really rich guys, bringing gifts to the baby – at the same spot where just days before shepards were kneeling, poor, raggard, maybe criminals, social outkasts, people who didn't fit in and with nothing to give. Now I don’t want to say that some of us are exactly like those shepards! But maybe some of us feel poor and insignificant sometimes. We want to show our love to God, to worship him, but we feel like we have nothing to give. We might think to much about only being able to sing off key, about the mess in our live, about some sin this week, maybe this day, about being an outsider in school, at the job – how could we come and really worship God? We have nothing to bring like the three magi.
The Christmas story got good news for all of us, just like for the shepards. God wants you to come and worship him, no matter what you did or how you feel. Worship is about loving the Lord, it’s just a response to his love and his forgiveness and grace! It’s not about bringing gifts – it is wonderful if you have something to give – but you do not have to bring something special to be allowed intimate time with God. God wants you just as you are – no matter if you feel like a magi or like a shepard tonight or any other day!

And now as we are in advent season, this is the time to have intimate fellowship with your God! Advent is a time of preparation. It is a time to spend time with God. Worship is not something God wants you to do once in a while here at church, he wants time with you every day! And now is the time. I love the internet and I found this on a blogspot I read (I don’t know the girl, but she sounds like a great person, here's the link
"Are you getting ready for royalty?
Wait inhope for the Lord
He is our help and our shield
Prepare the way for the Lord...
Clean the road, spruce up, get all those rocks out of the way...
Put clean straw in the manger....
Light a candle
Prepare him room
Clear the calendar, make time for the coming king...
Wait patiently
Prepare and wait...
For the once and future king!"

We are called to worship this king. Advent can be the time where we make more room for him in our everyday life instead of getting lost in Christmas stress. Take the time this season and spent time with your Lord and king, just as you are, and worship

So, this is it. Let me know your thoughts about it!