Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Reality of Psalm 100

This post comes with a warning - perhaps I'm being harsh! But in my continued thoughts on Psalm 100 last week a parody - or reality? - came into being...

“Mumble with a faint glow of smugness about the Lord, all you who could be bothered to attend tonight.
Give a little to God, grudgingly; sing half-heartedly.
Rehearse the same old, same old, then behave as if you’re on your own.
Come into his presence and expect congratulations for making the effort;
Take what you can and then get out.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations...”

Thursday, 16 October 2008

What Worship Could Be

I'm preparing a sermon on Psalm 100, and in so doing have been reminded of what worship could be (as opposed to what it so often is, as described recently by Mr. Campton!).

So picture this, worship in the style of Psalm 100:
I imagine a vibrant, warm, energetic crowd of people, tumbling into the sanctuary, delighted to be there. This is all about the LORD. There is a hush as together we recall that the one who created us also loves us and sustains us – resulting in a spontaneous eruption of thankful hearts expressing their praise and adoration. A final moment of stillness occurs as we contemplate God’s goodness, love and faithfulness - to us and to all who will come after us.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Gran

One of my Grannies died last month, and we miss her muchly. At her thanksgiving service - which was a beautifully powerful offering of worship - I said a few words, which I share now with you...

"Gran's been telling me I'd make a 'great little minister' for decades now. I'm not sure about 'great'... nor 'little'!... and my understanding of ministry tells me that she was as much a 'minister' as I ever will be. But I believe I have something to say that she would want me to say.

Gran's Bible is a heavily underlined document. It was given to her for Christmas in 1933 by her brother-in-law, Harold, around the time Gran made her decision to follow Jesus. One passage that was obviously well-read was from Revelation 21. One phrase that's highlighted is, "and there was no more sea" - a comfort to Granny as she nearly drowned on Arklow beach as a teenager!

There's no way of separating Gran from her faith, because it really would be like trying to separate two best friends. Jesus and Dorothy were like two crossed fingers. So in the last few weeks, more than ever, the promise of living with God in Heaven has been hugely important to her. She wholeheartedly trusted in God's promises, and it brought great reassurance to her to know that she was God's beloved, His joy and delight, one of His precious jewels. She looked forward with great anticipation to the day when the first course of Heaven, in which she presently lived, might become the full banquet of her reality -

"[God] will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Granny died with such peace, at home and surrounded by family. She smiled with her last breath - she knew where she was going. She is one of the 'victorious', one of the people who has persevered with Christ, she has run the race and completed it, who now hears the commendation of her Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Now she receives her prize - God says,

"Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children."

One final phrase that Gran had underlined from the passage in Revelation 21 is another promise, a promise that I know she would want you to hold on to. If Granny White's relationship with Jesus makes you long for something more, something deep, satisfying, meaningful, transformative, driven by love and a cause to live for, then hear this: God is real. He loves you, he died for you and was raised to life for you. He is alive and real now. And if you thirst for Him, today, tomorrow and for eternity, he says,

"To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life."

It would be the crowning glory of Gran's life if someone were to accept God's offer of eternal life at her funeral. She would want you to know and love her Jesus.

A few months after Gran received her Bible, she wrote some verses of a hymn inside the front cover:

Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my love, my Lord I pour
at Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.

Let's commit together to give our absolute everything to God as a sacrifice of worship, in honour of Dorothy Edith Jane White and to the glory of Jesus Christ her - and our - saviour."