New Sermon Series Summer 2018
Summer is a time between. It takes place between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We are out of school. We are on vacation. We are traveling. A lot happens during this "between" time and a lot happens in the in between of all of our lives: Between now and then, between here and there, between what is and what is yet to be, between you and me. “Between” includes a transition, it involves a journey, it requires understanding as we try to connect the dots; and it’s important for us to recognize what is going on in the “between” since we live much of our lives within it.
Spring 2018 Sermon Series
How we wish we knew it all. However, since today we can bring almost any information right to our phone from seemingly anywhere in the world, we think we do know it all. If not, we can certainly find it all out! There is something else at work, however. Especially when it comes to navigating a life that has not gone the way we envisioned it.. We are often looking in the wrong places for it and yet it is available each day: it is spiritual wisdom. He has revealed it in His Word. For there is a way of living revealed in who God is and what he is doing in our world that orients our hearts and focuses our minds for how life was meant to be lived.
Every person worships; meaning every person ascribes ultimate value to something. Every person has someone or something that deeply affects their emotions, that radically orients their thoughts, that primarily controls their decisions. The difference between people is not whether they worship, but what they worship. Our intent as Christians is to worship the Triune God alone, but every day we are pulled to worship other things. Corporate worship is a means God has given us to combat false worship, a gift given to enable us to re-orient ourselves to Him as together we make God the center of all we are and do. This begins with the recognition that it is only because of his initializing provision of the opportunity and ability that are we able to worship him at all (Titus 3:4-7)! So glorifying God is our chief purpose in Sunday morning worship. But it is not our only purpose. Corporate worship is meant to honor God and also to nurture one another in the Lord as we use the gifts the Spirit has provided to build one another up (eg. 1 Corinthians 14, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3). To accomplish these goals of loving God and neighbor we are committed to engaging in Sunday morning worship which is God-directed, gospel-centered, and people-edifying. (For more on this subject please follow the link to our Dynamic Worship document)
Regarding our “style” of worship, we acknowledge that many of us come from varying different styles of worship and we always run the risk of being divided over musical tastes and the “right” way to worship. While these risks are real and at times daunting, we have been led to believe that a “blended” service is important. What do we mean by “blended?” We blend classic forms of worship from hundreds of years of church tradition (e.g. ancient creeds, liturgical readings, hymns) with contemporary expressions of worship (e.g. spontaneous prayers, modern music and instruments) from our current century. We believe this form of worship is important for a few reasons, which include:
1) There is no “one, perfect way” to worship. Jesus bids us to come and worship him just as we are. This is because it is Jesus, not us, who perfects our services to be holy and pleasing to God. Every human expression, no matter how excellent, is fallible and partial to our own experiences. The blended worship style remembers it is not our musical tastes that we worship, but Jesus, who perfects human endeavors to come and have fellowship with him and each other.
2) The love of God compels us to seek unity. From the very beginning churches were divided over culture. We see this in Acts 6 where Luke records that Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews vied for priority within the local church. We also see this in the book of Galatians, where Paul rebuked Judaizers for trying to convert Gentile believers into the norm of Jewish culture, not to the gospel of Jesus. Differing opinions are not new. From the 1st century onward, Christians had to, in faith, come to terms with those who have different cultural takes on things. This is precisely why Jesus prayed that our oneness with each other will be like that of Him and the Father (John 17:21). It is the will of our Lord Jesus that Christians seek unity through the gospel, in spite of our personal differences. This is especially true in how we worship. Blended services aim to draw us closer to that unity.
3) 3) Moments of discomfort cause us to stretch in our ability to love God and others. Jesus said “A new command I give you: Love one another.” (John 14:34). One cannot help but have preferences in worship styles (this is normal to the human experience and not a bad thing in itself). However, we must make room for, and also grow in, our ability to love and value those who don’t think, act, live, or worship just like us. A blended service provides each of us with the opportunity to practice this kind of love.